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More maggots found in Aramark prison food

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Just after the news coverage of the discovery of maggots in prison food in Michigan, food prepared by the same food service company -- Aramark Correctional Services -- was found riddled with maggots at a prison in Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch reported that, on June 30, a "hot box was found to have maggots" at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. Specifically, maggots were found in a turkey roll being prepared for a meal and then, upon further examination, live maggots were found in the serving tray itself.

Although the prison confirmed that the food was not served to inmates, this is not the first time this year that maggots have plagued Ohio prison food. On June 24, live maggots were found "falling out of a warming tray" at Trumbull Correctional Institution in Leavittsburg, Ohio. Also, back in January, maggots were found in the food serving lines at the women's prison in Marysville.

This summer, maggots were found in Michigan prison food twice in one week. The first time was in the end of June, when maggots were found near serving trays at the Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson. The second time was at the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson on July 2. Immediately after the maggot discovery, more than 100 inmates at Parnall fell ill with food poisoning-like symptoms, although Aramark denied any connection between the maggots and the illnesses. Aramark has a $145 million contract to provide food services for all of Michigan's prisons. The contract eliminated more than 350 state jobs at an estimated savings of up to $16 million.

Both states have expressed some dissatisfaction with Aramark's services. In April 2014, the state fined Aramark more than $142,000 for "falling short of quality levels" in Ohio. Like Ohio, Michigan has fined Aramark for contract violations.

Mike Brickner, senior policy director at the ACLU of Ohio, spoke out about the issue, saying, “This is not an isolated incident that prison officials can expect to solve without taking broader action. Aramark’s long track record of incompetence and unsanitary conditions is well documented.” He continued, “Aramark’s failures not only put prisoner’s health and well-bring at risk, they also jeopardize the safety of employees at the prisons. We must treat those we incarcerate with basic human dignity. Food riddled with maggots, scant portions, and constant incompetence is simply unacceptable. We must demand better from the state.”

Bricker went on to urge the state to cancel its contract with Aramark, saying, “Officials have already tried to hold Aramark accountable by levying steep fines and that has not worked. It is time we recognize this experiment has failed and cancel the contract.”

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