Critical violations identified at Commons, BARH

Sodexo addresses health violations

Health code violations were identified at eight of the nine dining locations inspected at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2014. Two of RPI’s dining facilities, Commons Dining Hall and Burdett Avenue Residence Hall’s dining hall, were identified as having one critical health code violation each.

“Canned foods found in poor condition [leakers, severe dents, rusty, swollen cans],” were found in Commons. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, dented or leaking cans can become contaminated. Some cans begin to swell after they become contaminated with bacteria. This swelling can be caused by pressure from gas produced by bacteria growing inside of the food. Sodexo’s District Manager, Maureen Brown, explained, “In this particular instance, the violation was a dented can.” The contents of damaged cans are not used in food production. Brown elaborated, “Dented cans are set aside and returned for credit. Our staff is trained to recognize spoiled or otherwise unsafe food. Food is inspected as it comes in the back door.” Receiving personnel check all products for dates, temperatures, damaged cans, and quality of produce. This violation has been corrected as of the most recent inspection on November 25, 2014.

The critical violation identified at BARH was described as “toxic chemicals are improperly labeled, stored or used so that contamination of food can occur.” According to Brown, an unopened box of Sterno, canned fuel used to heat chafing dishes, was left on a shelf with canned food. Upon notification of the violation, the box was promptly moved to a chemical storage closet. As of the most recent inspection on November 5, 2014, this violation has been corrected.

One non-critical violation described as “tobacco is used, eating drinking in food preparation, dishwashing food storage areas” was found at Blitman Dining Hall during an inspection in 2014. Matt Mueller, the general manager of Hospitality Services at RPI, explained that the violation was not for tobacco use, but a beverage placed in the food preparation station. “[Tobacco use on campus] is a violation of both our policy and RPI’s Tobacco Use Policy. Employees are documented if they smoke on campus,” Brown mentioned. “Employees go out to the sidewalk to smoke,” added Mueller.

Various health code violations were found at other campus food service locations. The most frequent violation was “wiping cloths dirty, not stored properly in sanitizing solutions,” which was identified at three campus locations. The Rensselaer Union, with three non-critical violations, received the most violations of any on-campus dining facility. No health code violations were identified at Sage Dining Hall during inspections in 2014.

Brown shared that Sodexo tries to ensure the health and safety of students and employees. An independent third-party auditor inspects the food facilities on an annual basis for food and health safety. According to Brown, “[RPI’s dining facilities] scored an average of 98.6 in food safety and an average of 99.1 in health safety.” Mueller added, “A few of our units scored above 100.” Sodexo’s managers and culinarians are ServSafe certified through the ServSafe Food Safety Training Program. “Certification lasts five years, but Sodexo employees are re-certified every three years, so we exceed that standard,” Mueller stated.

The results of RPI Hospitality Services’ health inspection results since 2005 can be found at