The dining hall Everybody’s Kitchen received a “B” rating from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health last week, but USC administrators say they are working hard to fix the violations.
The health department conducted a facility inspection on Sept. 9 and gave the popular on-campus dining hall 81 points out of 100. Cafeterias such as EVK are inspected three to four times a year on a random basis.
“Everyone starts with 100 points. As the inspector goes through the violations that they come across, they start deducting points from 100,” said Mabel Gale, an environmental health specialist with the department.
The violations found at EVK included high refrigerator temperatures, lack of lids used on food storage, broken gaskets and dirty floors in the kitchen. Gale said most of the points deducted were because of broken gaskets that allowed the temperature in the coolers to rise higher than 41 degrees Fahrenheit, the required temperature limit.
Gale said, however, most of the violations committed were minor and did not pose a major health issue for students.
“It’s different if you have a problem with vermin, with rats, with mice,” Gale said. “The inspection is just a picture of what is going at that precise moment.”
Kris Klinger, director of USC Hospitality, said he believes students should not be concerned about food safety at EVK.
“There’s no danger. If there were a danger, the health department would shut us down,” he said.
The university has paid a fee to receive another inspection in the next 14 days, and EVK will receive a new rating after the second visit from the health department.
Klinger said USC Hospitality has already begun fixing the problems that led to the “B” rating by implementing new training systems, working to fix the temperatures and ensuring more stringent audits of the kitchen.
“Students are a priority,” Klinger said. “So we’re going to get the ‘A’ back and maintain the ‘A.’”
The rating was a disappointment for the employees, Klinger said.
“It’s not a true reflection of the job that they do,” Klinger said. “They are very disappointed … They know the students well, they know everyone who comes in.”
Erica Silva, a junior majoring in political science, said she believes a “B” rating is unacceptable for a college cafeteria.
“It was really disappointing, because being at a university, we shouldn’t have to worry about the quality of our food. I think there is no excuse for them to have any kind of rating lower than an ‘A,’” Silva said.
Silva said EVK was a popular option for students with a meal plan who live in dorms on the north side of campus.
“It’s really a trek to go to Parkside,” Silva said. “For all the students in that area, [EVK is] where everybody eats. It’s kind of like your only option, especially with the meal plan.”
EVK had a rating of 94, or an “A,” before the inspection on Sept. 9. The last time the cafeteria received a “B” was in 2008.