- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Department of Corrections acknowledged that its inspectors consistently found dirty kitchens and other food safety violations at several state prisons, but it said the contractor that provides the service is willing to work to improve the situation.

Nearly 340 inspections conducted between January 2013 and July 2014 at seven of the state’s 10 prisons and a total 19 facilities, such as satellite units, found noncompliance and deficiencies month after month at several facilities, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1tCRBz2 ).

For example, the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka, repeated mistakes such as not keeping proper temperature logs and not enforcing hand washing for at least 10 months. At the Ellsworth Correctional Facility, inspectors reported issues with bugs in the lights for 11 months. And a knife was used to keep a dishwasher’s fill switch in position for 19 months at the Winfield Correctional Facility.

The term “filthy” shows up in 11 inspections, “dirty” in 54 and “bugs” in 46, with most of those instances referring to insects filling light fixtures.

“Hygiene issues are always something we have to work with,” said Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said. “We’re housing a host of individuals that cleaning hasn’t always been a priority in their life. We’re re-teaching from the ground up.”

The department can take administrative action, such as fines and reconsidering the contract, if the food service provider isn’t meeting the contract terms. However, Barclay said Aramark, the food service contractor for most of the prisons, is willing to do whatever is required to meet its contract’s obligations.

Most inspections are done by corrections department employees, some of whom work at the facilities they inspect. To supplement those efforts, a food service contract manager from central administration occasionally performs an audit - usually announced beforehand.

Barclay said the corrections department makes annual reports to the Kansas Legislature and the department of administration awards the food service contracts, creating checks and balances in the prison food system.

Aramark holds the food service contracts in all the prisons, except for the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka, which switched last October to a different contractor. Aramark pays for a manager, an assistant manager and food service supervisors, with inmates working for them.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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