IU Greek houses struggle with health violations

June 8, 2015

Health inspection reports show that fraternity and sorority houses at Indiana University are struggling to keep their kitchens clean.

In more than 200 health inspection reports conducted on Greek houses in the last five years, 95 reports contained more than two critical violations. Four had more than 10. By comparison, in 126 inspections conducted by the Monroe County Health Department from October to December of 2014, no nearby food establishments had more than two critical violations, the Herald Times of Bloomington reported.

"A lot of people claim, 'This is my private home,'" said Graham McKeen, a health inspector with IU. "But if students pay for room and board, that's what makes it a food establishment."

IU has a partnership agreement with the Indiana State Department of Health to conduct risk-based food safety inspections of all food establishments on university property or under university control, including regional campuses and any fraternity and sorority houses.

McKeen said efforts have been made in recent years to increase compliance at the houses, such as hiring more inspectors. McKeen and his team are working to educate handlers about the proper procedures for food preparation.

"Some houses love us and see us as an asset for training and responsibility," McKeen said. "Some don't like to see us."

While McKeen said things have gotten better, Greek houses will likely never be as clean as restaurants because of several factors. McKeen points to things like the number of people a house has on staff and the age of the structure itself.

"If the boys upstairs have 30 pizzas from two weeks ago laying out, that's not going to help with pest control," McKeen said. "Our only jurisdiction is for food service areas."

Some houses, like Lambda Chi Alpha, are receiving help from alumni. Alumnus Tony Drake was appalled at the state of his fraternity's house so he joined its housing corporation board. Within a year, he was president and began tackling issues facing the house.

Drake replaced all of the house's employees and hired a new kitchen manager. Drake said the new staff wants to work with the health inspectors to address any problems.

"After it was shut down, when I went back, it looked much better at Lambda Chi," McKeen said.


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