Spot neglects health standards

editorial cartoon by Jeff Nicoll
editorial cartoon by Jeff Nicoll

Have you found your food at the Spot just warm enough to eat? Or found hair in your french fries? Or stayed up all night with the stomach flu after eating a chicken burrito for dinner at the Spot? If you answered yes, it is worth asking whether the food you are eating at the Spot is meeting California Health and Safety regulations.

According to Environmental Health standards, food services must maintain hot food at a temperature of 140° F and cold food must be kept at 40° F or lower. It would be difficult for the Spot to maintain this temperature since the prepared food, such as rice and shredded meats, rests over a hot bar that does not have a temperature gauge. Cheese and chopped lettuce, which should be kept refrigerated or away from heat, are kept next to the hot bar where it congeals and solidifies. In these conditions the bacteria that is present on all foods continues to grow and over a couple of hours can reach toxic levels. The longer the food is contaminated, the faster the bacteria grows. The toxins that are produced are what cause food poisoning.

Under health codes, food servers are also required to wear hair nets, clean outer garments and wash their hands regularly. Plastic gloves are not required and are not necessary if servers’ hands are kept sterile. Spot workers do not maintain this level of protection. No hair nets are worn, and during the busy meal hours, they do not stop to wash their hands in between food preparation. This lack of responsibility is possibly due to the unsupervised working conditions and lack of knowledge among employees. However, this is not an excuse for their negligence.

Also, the eating area of the Spot is not sanitary. Tables are not regularly washed off during the day, nor is food properly thrown away. Often times food will be left mashed and covered with napkins at the side of a table waiting for someone else to dispose of it. This shows neglect by both the employees and the students who eat there.

Proper health standards are required by law to be maintained in food areas and it is time students started noting that these conditions are below standards and are a personal health risk. There is no acceptable justification for the unsanitary eating conditions at the Spot or for why it has been ignored this long or for why patrons would not throw away their leftovers. At a any other restaurant where you pay for quality service and food, you would be expected to report any concerns to the Department of Health. Two years ago students were outraged when they noticed grasshoppers in the salad bar at Davenport Dining Hall. The summer weather had driven them to seek cooler surroundings indoors. Davenport responded immediately by spraying the area and setting traps. After some fight the problem was corrected.

The Campus Times implores students and other responsible parties to not just think about this issue but take action. If patrons believe the quality of food needs to improve, and changes need to be made they should take it up with the food services management. If that does not work, the Environmental Health Consumer Complaint Office is an option.

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