Gov. Rick Snyder may have thought the drumbeat of scandals with for-profit prison food vendor Aramark was behind him in the last two weeks of the election. But he was wrong.
A former Aramark employee has come forward to talk about serving raw meat and undercooked meat and meat-based food to inmates. Even after she brought the situation to the attention of Aramark officials, nothing was done. Well, something was done but not about the problem.
A fired Aramark prison food worker filed a whistle-blower complaint Wednesday with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, alleging she lost her job for complaining about falsified records and kitchen practices that endangered health and food safety.
Amy McVay, 25, was hired Dec. 3 as Aramark Correctional Services began its three-year, $145-million contract with the state of Michigan and worked at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian until she was fired by Aramark on Oct. 14. The stated reason for her dismissal was insubordination.
But in a Tuesday interview with the Free Press and in the complaint filed with OSHA through her Detroit attorneys, McVay alleges she was harassed and retaliated against for complaining about a lack of temperature monitoring in cooking; the serving of raw or undercooked meat; falsified records related to dishwater temperature and cleaning solution quality; the serving of meat that had been dropped on the floor; changing the dates on stored leftover food so it could be served after its throw-away date; suspected inflating of the count of meals served — part of the basis for which Aramark is paid by the state — among other issues. […]
“Raw chicken, it can make people very sick, with the risk of salmonella,” said McVay, who has worked in other restaurant kitchens and whose father is a corrections officer at Gus Harrison.
“I started complaining to supervisors. They said, ‘This is a prison; not a five-star restaurant.’ “
If you click through to the Detroit Free Press article, you can watch video of McVay talking about the problems.
The attitude that it’s okay to serve meat that is contaminated or undercooked to prisoners because they aren’t in a “five-star restaurant” is disgusting.
Oh, and McVay isn’t the only person to come forward:
A second former Aramark worker, Tiffany Ely, 38, who worked in the kitchen at Pugsley Correctional Facility in Kingsley from Dec. 3 until she says she quit in disgust on June 16, independently told the Free Press about her experiences — the details of which matched McVay’s account with respect to ignoring required temperature monitoring and falsifying testing and records related to the required temperature of water used to wash dishes and utensils.
Ely kept records of complaints she made through an Aramark employee hotline and to the company’s human resources department, but said “nothing ever changed.”
The food practices upset Ely, who previously helped manage a restaurant, so much that “I was vomiting,” she said Wednesday. “I couldn’t take it anymore.”
Aramark is claiming these are just the rantings of “disgruntled employees” and “another example in the long-running series of manufactured attacks against our company.”
Given that Aramark has had these same types of problems in at least two other states, complaints like this sound less and less like some sort of coordinated attack by low-wage disgruntled employees and more like a systemic and company-wide problem.
It really makes you ask how bad things have to get before Gov. Snyder pulls the plug on this failed experiment with privatizing essential government services to for-profit, private vendors who have more to gain by cutting corners than they, apparently, have to lose when they get busted when they violate the rules.