Aramark contract "up in the air" after more maggots found in prison food

Jul 3, 2014

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Aramark Correctional Services, the private company that provides food to Michigan prisons, is in trouble again.

Inmates at the Charles Egeler Reception & Guidance Center in Jackson found maggots while peeling potatoes Tuesday morning.

Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan says the warden was notified, and quickly moved to dispose of all the potatoes.

The kitchen was then thoroughly bleached. No resulting health problems have been reported.

Last week, 30 inmates at another Jackson prison fell ill after maggots were found in the chow hall.

Aramark has had a number of serious issues since it took over as the prison system’s food service provider in December.

The company was cited for food shortages, under-staffing, and employees’ smuggling contraband into prisons, among other things. The state fined it $98,000 for some of the violations in March.

After meal shortages led to prisoner unrest and safety concerns in some facilities, MDOC put Aramark “on notice that…any contract violation at any prison is going to be counted against them,” says Marlan.

An Aramark spokeswoman says it will send auditors to all 31 Michigan prisons “to ensure they meet our high safety and sanitation standards.”

Marlan says company management has pledged to “investigate and resolve” the sanitation issues, which Governor Snyder called “unacceptable” after the first maggot incident.

“I think that’s where we are today, and we are hopeful that they will do that,” Marlan says. “But again, we’re very concerned that this is twice that we’re seeing unsanitary conditions in our prison kitchens.”

Marlan points out that the July 1 deadline the state set for “aggressive monitoring” has already passed—but says there’s currently “no definitive answer” about the future of Aramark’s 3-year, $145 million contract.