On October 1, an anonymous complaint was filed with Lorain County Public Health, alleging that several individuals had fallen ill from food poisoning as a result of eating at Rathskeller’s. On October 6, LCPH escalated its routine biennial inspection of the facility to follow up on this complaint and found three health code violations – two serious and one non-critical.
A significant violation was the repeated violation from the earlier inspection of LCPH on April 26 this year.
The inspection report reads, “Direct connection between a drain from the sewage system and equipment in which food, portable equipment or utensils are kept.” “Observed the drainage line for the soda machine and the ice machine inserted into the drainage pipeline for the building. Adjust the plumbing to make sure there [are] Air gaps that exist between appliance drainage lines and sewage system plumbing.
Recommended plumbing adjustments were not made between the April 26 and October 6 inspections. According to LCPH Environmental Health Supervisor Greg Putka, failure to rectify the issue could have significant ramifications.
“Some pieces of equipment have an indirect plumbing line from the piece of equipment to the drain,” Putka said. “Basically, they have a line that’s going to drain directly from the piece of equipment. So the thought process there is that they don’t want any potential backup of sewage in those lines, because what would happen is sewage going back into the line.” and potentially contaminates the ice.
in an email reviewAVI Foodsystems director of retail Sariroj Hildahl reported that the appropriate repairs have been made. “This issue has been corrected,” Heildahl wrote. “When Pepsi installs the fountain they don’t follow OH health code regulations so we need a campus plumber to fix the drain properly.”
However, it is unclear whether this was the issue that could have led to the alleged cases of food poisoning.
According to Katie Bevan, program manager for LCPH’s Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Program, a comprehensive protocol usually exists for food poisoning complaints.
“When people contact Lorain County Public Health about suspected food poisoning or suspected foodborne illnesses, we follow up with those individuals — as long as those complaints are anonymous,” Bevan said. “Then our epidemiology team … conducts an interview with them, and part of that interview includes, ‘What foods have you eaten in the past 70 or 72 hours that made you sick?’
Because the complaint – which cited instances of food poisoning experienced by several unnamed students – was submitted anonymously, LCPH was unable to follow up with the complainant and verify the alleged food poisoning cases and their origins .
According to Putka, food poisoning can arise in a number of ways.
Putka said, “As far as food handling, … basically you’re looking at whether … food workers are not washing their hands properly — there are issues of cross-contamination. ” “If they’re not properly cooking produce, there’s also potentially cross-contamination issues. If you’re not storing things properly — your refrigerator is a surefire way to store meats.
Putka also mentioned that incorrect food storage temperatures can allow pathogens to grow and thus cause foodborne illness.
The report, released after the 6 October inspection, flagged the risks of cross-contamination vesicle profiling, which included a critical storage error: “Food not properly protected from contamination by separation, packaging and isolation” . Look for raw eggs on top of a box of lettuce in walk-in cooler #3.”
This error was corrected by the person in charge during the inspection to prevent possible contamination.
According to Heildahl, AVI prioritizes student health and safety. Hildahl was present during the recent inspection and worked with the staff to fix the violations.
“Complaints about illness are taken seriously and we begin an investigation by collecting information from the student that we forward to the Department of Health for an ad hoc inspection,” Hildahl wrote. “I work directly with our health inspector during these inspections, providing him with the necessary documentation and giving him access to any areas of interest for any inspections.”