Food Service improves in both form and function

by Courtney Kirkland

Cleanliness at the Storm Street Grill and Pfeiffer Dining Hall has improved over the past two years, according to an official with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.

“Inspections that took place during 2001 found violations that were genuine but not crucial concerns,” said Judy Harrison, food and consumer safety bureau chief for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. “The recent inspection found only minor problems.”

Inspections in May 2001 and November 2001 at the Storm Street Grill found violations that Harrison said were critical and that customers and students should be made aware of the infractions.

The public record of the May 2001 inspection showed that some food wasn’t being held at cold enough temperatures, and hygienic practices such as sanitizing were being neglected. During the November 2001 inspection state officials found that toxic chemicals were being stored too close to food, though the problem was corrected immediately.

The 2001 inspections of Pfeiffer Dining Hall also showed significant concerns.

The first inspection in February 2001 found that employees were not using adequate hand-washing procedures, which Harrison said is a crucial problem.

“Several of the food-borne illness outbreaks that have taken place (around the country) in the last three years have been related to improper hand-washing,” she said.

State officials also found, during the same inspection, that raw food was being stored near pre-cooked food in the freezer and that a standard operation procedure was needed to monitor and ensure that employees were changing their gloves as needed.

The second inspection, in December 2001, showed a few cosmetic problems in the kitchen; contamination issues with the peanut butter, jelly and butter; and cream cheese packets located in the customer self-service area that weren’t being kept at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

“It is important to prevent the distribution of any potentially hazardous food,” said Harrison. “Bacteria grows rapidly between the area known as the danger zone, which is anywhere from 40 F to 140 F, so there could have been a contamination there.”

Harrison said that inspection results at Simpson are not uncommon compared with most food-service businesses.

“Inspections pass my desk on a daily basis, and these are certainly not out of the norm,” said Harrison. “Overall, I would say both Pfeiffer and the Storm Street Grill are clean places to eat.”

Since the 2001 inspections, many improvements have been made at both of Simpson’s dining services.

The most recent inspection of Pfeiffer in February 2002 showed that the dishwasher wasn’t working properly. However, the staff was already aware of this problem and had scheduled for maintenance to fix it that day. State officials also found that the fan in the dish room was soiled.

The inspection of the Storm Street Grill in August 2002 also showed only similar, minor and fixable problems.

“Both of the 2002 inspections went very well,” said Vince LoVan, general manager of Simpson’s food service.

Harrison agrees. “Both of these inspections showed real improvement,” she said.

LoVan attributes the improvements to the now-mandatory food safety program Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. This program teaches employees proper hygiene procedures and all food-safety requirements.

“Employees at the Grill and Pfeiffer are now required to attend and complete this training,” he said.

LoVan said that the cream-cheese packets are now submerged in ice at proper temperatures along with other condiments that must be kept cold. The peanut butter, jelly and butter have been moved under a sneeze guard to correct the customer contamination concerns that were presented in 2001.

According to LoVan, the future looks bright for both of Simpson’s dining facilities.

“Food safety and sanitation is the No. 1 priority in our operation. The customer deserves a clean environment and quality food,” he said. “We now look forward to the health inspector’s visit because we are proud of our facility.”