Emails obtained by Think Progress show that an employee at Michigan’s privatized prison food service supplier, Aramark, ordered a prison worker to serve cake “which rodents were observed eating from.”
According to the emails, the Aramark employee, identified as “Aramark employee Ellsworth” ordered a prison worker to stop throwing away cake that had visible signs of rodent infestation. Ellsworth then ordered the prisoner to “cut the sides off the cake and serve it to the population.”
Here’s a photo of emails between Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) employees, who were initially notified of the ‘rat cake’ incident, in July of 2014.
According to CBS Detroit, this incident took place at the Central Michigan Correctional Facility.
In July of last year, at least 30 prisoners at Parnell Corrections Facility in Jackson, Michigan were treated for food poisoning symptoms. The inmates reported diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue and headache. The symptoms occurred in conjunction with the discovery of maggots and fly larvae on the food service line at the facility.
Less than a week later, maggots were found in the food at another Jackson, Michigan prison, this time the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center.
In October of last year, an Aramark worker was caught taking food out of the trash and serving it to inmates.
In September, a prisoner at the Baraga Correctional Facility in Grand Rapids filed suit against Aramark for serving bad food at that facility. According to the suit, Aramark falsified menus, substituting what the company claimed to be serving, with food that was not fit for consumption.
On the menu – Meatballs, gravy, noodles, bread, cooked carrots and cake or a cookie – didn’t match what was on the plate, which contained a green and spoiled hamburger patty, cold gravy, cold noodles with a vinegar odor, raw carrots, moldy bread and a green orange in place of dessert, the lawsuit claims. The milk was warm and past its expiration date.
The inmate is charging that Aramark’s use of unsanitary, expired and moldy food constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of his constitutional rights.
Aramark spokesmen claim that the corporation’s meals are planned by dietary experts and are designed to meet minimum calorie and nutrition requirements. Those familiar with the actual practices of the company dispute those claims.
In October of last year, a former Aramark food service worker filed a whistle-blower complaint against the corporation.
Amy McVay claims that she was fired after complaining about serious health and safety violations, which routinely take place in Aramark run food service kitchens.
During an interview with the Detroit Free Press, McVay brought forth a number of concerns, including:
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.