Belmont Dining Services received its lowest food safety grade in over a decade in October, with a grade of 72.
But after reevaluation, it received a follow-up score of 97.
The main source of the low score was the dishwasher, which was heated to 158 degrees instead of 160, causing a 25-point loss.
Belmont ceased using the dishwasher until the part was replaced.
Now, Belmont and Sodexo have made strides to ensure food safety is held to state standards.
Their efforts have focused on immediate corrections and long-term procedures.
“Sodexo everyday does a temperature check,” said Keith Chapman, senior director of Belmont Auxiliary Services. “But when the temperature gauge was broken, they weren’t actually getting accurate readings.”
Sodexo has since replaced the faulty sensor.
It also changed the method for employees to check the temperature of the dishwasher, Chapman said.
To prevent another problem, Sodexo employees run a thermometer disk with the dishes, which gives a more accurate and consistent temperature reading.
“We immediately switched to paper service in the dining hall and launched an internal investigation,” Sodexo’s manager at Belmont, Chuck Couture, said. “This led to improvements in the facility, equipment, additional training, and updates in our procedures and processes.”
Other immediate action included disassembling some of the preparatory areas to thoroughly clean and disinfect them.
The entire cafeteria will then be deep cleaned over winter break, Chapman said.
Couture also instated new, continuous sanitation practices after retaking the National Sanitation Foundation course.
The new policies include ensuring all employees are familiar with the standards.
Still, Belmont dining’s reputation has been hurt.
Many students were quickly made aware of the low score via social media, though the reevaluation score has not spread similarly.
“I definitely have limited the amount of times that I go to the caf since the 72,” said Rayvin Wulfing, a sophomore at Belmont, “because now I’m leery of the health of it.”
With Sodexo’s contract ending in May, Belmont continues its process for selecting the next food service provider.
Over winter break, Belmont’s executive leadership looks to balance the committee’s quality, financial and technical ratings to score each candidate.
The university is due to release its final proposal by the start of the spring semester.
Currently, all on-campus dining options have a health score of 97 or above.
Any remaining concerns can be brought up at Foodie Council meetings, occurring on the first Friday of each month.
The next one will take place on Dec. 1 at Harrington Place Dining.
This article was written by Matt Sinofsky