On Nov. 26, Samford Dining received a health inspection by the Jefferson County Department of Health. While most dining locations on campus including Einsteins, the Food Court, and the Rotunda received scores in the high 90s, the Caf fell short with a score of 73 — the lowest score currently reported in recent Food Services inspections for Jefferson County, according to the Jefferson County Department of Health website.
According to the health inspection, the Caf was deducted points due to rodent droppings being spotted in the “My Kitchen Area,” old dried onions found inside the dicer in storage, hamburgers at the Grill having low temperature and frozen condensate inside a box of cinnamon rolls. Some of these issues were corrected on sight, according to the inspection report.
The Samford Crimson met with Samford Dining General Manager Richard Davis on Dec. 3, who addressed the report as well as some of the concerns students shared on social media since its publishing. Davis said all of the issues in the report were fixed the day after the inspection and they are working to schedule a follow-up inspection.
“Our response was fast,” Davis said. “I met Samford Facilities and Hobart, our equipment company, on Wednesday morning. Ninety-nine percent of the mechanical issues were fixed by the end of the day. As soon as we got back from holiday break yesterday, we immediately started training the employees that were training issues.”
The issues that were fixed at the time of the inspection were noted “COS” or “Corrected On Site.” Most of the issues reported were technical, Davis said, including an employee cup being left on a food prep counter, errors on where certain foods should be stored and the mishandling of a box of frozen turkey that was placed on a shelf above where ice cream would normally go. In addressing where the rodent droppings that were found, Davis said that it was nowhere near any food or food storage and that glue traps have already been placed as a precaution against the continuing cold weather.
On Dec. 4, Executive Vice President Buck Brock sent an email to all Samford students updating on the health inspection that occurred that day.
“Today the Health Department returned to campus and if they were providing a score today, our cafeteria would receive a 96. However, Health Department protocol requires that they conduct a full reinspection of every aspect of the kitchen before they will formally issue a new score. We are in the process of scheduling this comprehensive reinspection,” Brock stated in the email.
Since the report’s publishing, students have responded on social media with videos and pictures of the score, which is available on Jefferson County Department of Health’s website, showing disgust for the Caf. One student created an Instagram account called “Concernedsamfordstudents” and is dedicated to chronicling their perceived issues within the Caf. Posts appear to show bugs found in food and dirty dishes reportedly within the Caf.
“We are not paying $42,000 a year for this,” the student posted on Instagram along with an image of undercooked chicken reportedly from the Caf. The image is tagged to the Samford Dining instagram account. .
Samford Dining’s instagram is tagged in other posts on the account, which also claims that many students “will be boycotting the Caf until further notice.”
Other students have also commented and posted the score on their social media, calling for Samford Dining to respond and fix these issues.
“Their top priority should be the health and wellness of their students and it is unacceptable for us to pay as much as we do for food that could possibly cause us to get sick and not perform well during exams,” sophomore English major Sophia Brough said.
“Pretty sure we should all get a refund after the cafeteria scored a 73 for raw food contamination, contamination from employee food and rat droppings just to name a few,” sophomore Exercise Science major John Russell posted on Instagram.
As images and videos reportedly taken in the Caf continue to surface and circulate on social media, students continue to share what they refer to as their disgust for the conditions in the Caf. One video that is circulated is a video from Tik Tok which shows bugs in food and dirty dishes reportedly from the Caf.
Davis addressed the Tik Tok video that has been circulating around social media said that the video shows food on the older blue plates that were removed over the summer as well as things that were never reported to Samford Dining. Davis said that the uncooked chicken picture in the video was old as well. Overall, Davis said that the video has no correlation with the health report.
Davis recommends that students come talk to him about any concerns, including any dietary restrictions they might have.
“No one takes the safety of the students, especially food safety, more seriously than I do,” Davis said.
Brock also invites parents and students to stop by the Samford Dining office for a tour of the kitchen as well as to discuss their concerns with them. Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet the new executive chef, who is a certified safety trainer according to Davis.
“Next Monday-Thursday at 3 p.m. we will host kitchen tours and provide an opportunity for you to meet the new executive chef. Sodexo dining managers and university leaders will also be available to discuss your concerns. A line item site review of last week’s report will be part of the tour,” Brock said in the email.
According to Alabama Public Health’s website, a health score below an 85 results in a follow-up inspection in 60 days.