Food service passes city inspections

Michael Youmans, Sodexho employee, prepares a pasta dish for a customer in the Lion´s Den Feb. 2.

Michael Youmans, Sodexho employee, prepares a pasta dish for a customer in the Lion´s Den Feb. 2.

Monique Jamerson

Despite the usual complaints from students at Missouri Southern, Sodexho is successfully doing its job.

The Joplin Health Department said Sodexho has passed all required food inspections, in the areas it serves on campus, including the University Java Coffee Shop.

Environmental Health and Epidemiology Coordinator Becky Heffren said, at the time of an inspection, the inspectors look for several different things.

“Our main focus is contamination of food and the spread of disease,” Heffren said.

She said critical items such as food-born illness must receive immediate action.

The process in which a facility is inspected follows specific guidelines.

There are a number of categories that a food service provider must pass: personnel hygiene, the food itself, contamination, equipment, such as clean dishes and the physical facility.

There is also a poisonous and toxic category, which includes cleaners, the proper storage of cleaning items and proper use of pesticides.

“We keep an eye on microbiology in the kitchen to make sure no bacteria is growing in that area,” she said.

The type of facility determines the number of times it is given an inspections.

“If the facility is more involved, like Sodexho, we see them three times a year,” she said. “If it pertains to a convenience store that sells lunch meat, we see them less often.”

Heffren said the Joplin Health Department is welcomed to comments or complaints.

She said as far as she can see, there have been no complaints about Sodexho from students at Missouri Southern, and Sodexho is currently under compliance.

“Our main goal is to train the facility to pass inspections,” she said.

While Sodexho has its own inspections, it also forms a committee to take informal suggestions from students and put them to work in everyday activities.

Carla Fairbanks, resident director of McCormick Hall and secretary of the Sodexho food committee said the committee meets at 5:30 every Thursday with students to discuss their likes and dislikes about Sodexho and what they would like to see.

“We have about 10-20 students who come to the meetings and most of them have suggestions,” Fairbanks said.

Fairbanks said as part of Sodexho’s contract they were required to hear from the students.

She said Ron Cooksey, food service manager, enjoys hearing what students have to say.

Fairbanks said Cooksey tries to fix the problems the students are having, but it can be difficult to do due to the budget.

“Our focus at the meetings is to make sure the students are happy, and they are voicing their opinions,” Fairbanks said.