Pit, Magnolia room earn an “A” after reinspection

An April 18 report gave the two dining halls a B grade


Shaila Prasad

A sign hanging in the Pit Wednesday night shows a B rating and a score of 85. The Pit has since been reinspected and earned a grade of 91.5.

Christa Dutton, Editor-in-Chief

The Forsyth County Department of Public Health reinspected the Harvest Table Culinary Group — Wake Forest’s dining services provider — on April 20 and issued it a 91.5, or A, rating. This follows an April 18 inspection during which it issued the Pit and Magnolia Room a B rating. 

During their observations of Harvest Table from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 18, inspectors reported administrative issues such as the person in charge of the kitchen not being present to ensure that employees effectively cleaned their hands, used proper time and temperature control for foods and followed other protocols. For example, a Magnolia Room employee and two Pit employees were observed not following proper hand-washing protocol — noted in the inspection report as a repeat violation, meaning inspectors had observed issues with hand-washing in previous inspections. All employees were educated during the inspection and re-washed their hands properly. 

“Wake Forest holds Harvest Table [Culinary Group] to the highest standards and expectations,” John Wise, vice president of Hospitality and Auxiliary Services, told the Old Gold & Black in an email. 

Wise also told the Old Gold & Black that he thinks the Wake Forest dining experience is still safe. 

“The food that is being prepared and delivered to students is as risk-free of an issue or concern as it could be,” Wise said. “Some of these issues, obviously, we need to address, and they increase a sense of awareness of the priorities and the standards. But at no time have I felt that any safety of the student has been at risk.”

The April 18 report also says that one employee in the main kitchen was not wearing a hair restraint while working with clean utensils and a Magnolia Room employee was also not wearing a hair restraint while working with catered food. 

The April 18 inspection also found problems with how the Pit stored food, leaving unwashed, raw or unprepared foods on racks above ready-to-eat foods, known as cross-contamination. Additionally, some foods were not cooked to the proper temperature. Cooked vegetables at the Southern Kitchen were at 124 degrees Fahrenheit and chicken at the grill station and a Mexican chorizo pizza were all under the standard 135 degree Fahrenheit mark. Grilled chicken and chicken legs in the back kitchen were 125 degrees and about 115 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, and were reheated to the proper temperature during inspection. All other foods that were not cooked to the right temperature were discarded. 

The report also shows that Magnolia Room employees did not maintain a logbook recording the time that food was brought to the Magnolia Room and put out in the dining room. This is a sanitation issue because, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, certain hot food cannot be left out for longer than an hour or two due to bacteria risk. This was addressed during the inspection, and the food was served within four hours. 

An additional issue in the Magnolia Room was that tongs or other utensils were not available for students to pick up items like apples, meaning students had to use their hands. Apples in the Magnolia Room were served with stickers still on the peel, and employees were also seen peeling sweet potatoes before washing them. During the inspection, the apples were removed from the dining room, and employees washed the sweet potatoes. Salad plates in the Magnolia Room were also stacked wet and placed with food-contact sides up. 

All other dining venues on campus currently have an “A” rating and are inspected at different times during the year. 

Harvest Table has consistently received A ratings in the past, including a 94.5 in November 2022. All dining venues are inspected once a quarter, or four times a year. 

Update April 21: A typo in the headline was corrected.