A corrections spokeswoman for Ohio prisons says that Ohio’s prisons agency is planning on developing a plan to enable local health inspections of food service operations after reports surfaced of maggots found in kitchen areas.
According to The Associated Press, problems have been reported since last April, concerning the vendor, Aramark, who won the contract to provide kitchen services to inmates. The complaints, besides maggots, included issues like running out of food, and staffing shortages. There were a total of 65 documented complaints, including five complaints of maggots. At some points, the food shortages were causing security concerns as inmates grew frustrated.
Aramark has defended itself against the claims; company president John Hanner has said that food substitutions and delays have been rare, and that many allegations were the result of discontent. In winning the bid, the prison workers who originally ran the kitchen were displaced.
Aramark won the $110 million deal, in which they supplied food to 50,000 prisoners from last September through June 2015. In April, the state fined Aramark $142,000 for several issues, including failing to maintain adequate staffing levels.
Aramark is also operating within Michigan, and Gov. Rick Snyder has expressed interest in potentially reconsidering their contract there, citing performance issues as well as 30 or so cases where inmates displayed symptoms of potential food poisoning. Each year, about 48 million Americans become sick from food-borne illnesses — the majority of the cases the result of sanitation and handling issues with public food. Michigan officials have already filed a $200,000 fine against the company, citing staffing problems, employee misconduct, and unapproved food substitutions.
“Food service is a critical operation and we have made clear to Aramark our concerns,” says JoEllen Smith, speaking on behalf of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
“The issues found to date are both the responsibility of Aramark and the state,” explains Smith. “DRC will continue to work with its own staff and Aramark staff to ensure sanitary conditions in all its facilities.”