Protesting another discovery of maggots, about 1,000 inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women at Marysville dumped their lunches in the trash yesterday.
The fly larvae were found under a stainless-steel serving line during a pre-meal inspection, and the area was sanitized, said JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
However, after the report circulated among the 2,700 prisoners, about 1,000 women dumped their lunches, which consisted of macaroni and ham, coleslaw, greens, an apple and bread, she said.
Prison officials reported that “no significant problems” accompanied the prisoners’ evening meal.
The report of maggots was the second in the Marysville prison and the eighth confirmed case in a state prison this year.
Maggots also were found yesterday on a shelf near the meal serving line at the Trumbull Correctional Institution near Warren in northeastern Ohio, Smith said.
Neither Marysville nor Trumbull served prisoners contaminated food, she said.
The continuing reports of maggots come as prison officials ratchet up pressure on the meal-service vendor, Aramark Correctional Services, to improve its operations.
The state has fined the Philadelphia-based company $272,300 for a lack of cleanliness, a lack of employees and other problems since it took over meal service in state prisons from unionized state employees in September.
“This is something we take very seriously, and we continue to discuss these matters with Aramark. We’ve made it clear improvements must continue,” Smith said.
The Ohio Reformatory for Women is among seven prisons where most of the food-related problems have occurred, prison officials have said.
Aramark has defended its performance, saying it is correcting problems and has saved the state more than $13 million under its two-year, $110 million contract.
Company spokeswoman Karen Cutler said the new discovery of maggots was “highly suspicious” because the Marysville prison kitchen recently passed inspections by the government and a third-party auditor hired by Aramark.
Prison officials have notified Aramark that they are “looking into all potential causes for any alleged infestations, including issues with pest control and infrastructure within the facilities, which are not our responsibility,” Cutler said.
Christopher Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, said, “We don’t believe Aramark can recover from this. It’s our hope to get back to the table with DR&C and talk about getting this under control.”
Amid arbitration over the issue, the union wants the state to put unionized workers back in charge of prison food service.
By Randy Ludlow - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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