County to cancel and renegotiate food inspection agreement with Notre Dame
Observer Staff Report | Thursday, September 20, 2018
St. Joseph County will cancel and then renegotiate a recently announced agreement with Notre Dame that would have allowed the University to conduct its own health inspection for on-campus food establishments, the South Bend Tribune reported Thursday.
On Wednesday, David Keckley, the county Board of Health’s attorney, said the renegotiated agreement would seek to make the University’s health inspection reports publicly available.
“I don’t think that’s probably a good arrangement for Notre Dame to conduct inspections and keep all their reports confidential — even if they have a right to do it,” Keckley said in the article.
According to the article, the county board of health has had problems carrying out the recommended number of health inspections due to staff shortages. It would be helpful, the article said, if Notre Dame could do its own inspections.
Keckley said the health department’s food services director, Carolyn Smith, had negotiated the agreement with the University. However, it was Notre Dame that had insisted on keeping the inspection reports confidential. Keckley stated Smith had told him that she heard from the state health department that Notre Dame could keep the reports confidential, but he did not believe that to be the case. He also said Smith reported Indiana University and all of its regional campuses do their own inspections and keep the reports confidential.
According to the article, Smith told Keckley that Indiana’s health department lets IU and “all of its regional campuses, including IUSB, to conduct inspections and keep the records confidential.”
Graham McKeen, IU’s public health manager, said this information was inaccurate, as although IU does its own inspections, it makes the information publicly available.
The initial agreement between Notre Dame and the county called for the county to do any initial inspections of “new or remodeled food establishments” at the University, with the school taking over “routine” inspections from then on. The records of such inspections would have been available to the health department but not the general public.
“If we’re going to have Notre Dame give us inspection reports and keep them here, we may have to turn them over on any [public] request,” Keckley said in the article.
Notre Dame signaled it was willing to renegotiate the agreement, according to the article.
“[The original agreement] contains substantial errors, including language concerning access to public records,” University spokesman Dennis Brown told the Tribune.
Keckley also says he believes the first deal is not valid because the department’s health officer, Luis Galup, never signed it. Only Smith signed the original deal.
Since the approval of the agreement, Galup said the county health department has not received any inspection reports from Notre Dame, though it is unclear if any inspections were carried out.