Turning an F into an A

I recently came across news coverage of an ex-Chicago contractor who had formerly worked as a food inspector for the city of Chicago and was sentenced to more than two years in prison for taking bribes to obtain food safety certificates for people who had not taken required courses or passed tests.  Yes that’s right, she would grant a passed test score for restaurants and companies that had failed to meet the requirements of these food safety certificates.

Maryanne Koll, 69, was sentenced to 30 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who had rendered the guilty verdict last year.  She was ordered to begin serving the sentence on December 31, 2012.  The state law requires all food service establishments, such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, convenience stores, schools and hospitals to have  an on-site individual that holds a food service sanitation manager certificate, which can be obtained after successful completion of the course and exam.

From at least June 2004 through June 2007, in exchange for cash bribes, Koll arranged to falsely obtain certificates for individuals who had not attended a course or passed the exam.  She enabled them to obtain certificates by fraudulently completing answer sheets and submitting them to the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) on their behalf, knowing that they had not attended the course or taken the exam.  Although Koll was an independent contractor for the State of Illinois, the judge found that, under federal law, she was an agent of the state Department of Public Health when she accepted bribes.

As a public consumer in general and an advocate for healthy eating in the public community, it was shocking to come across this information because when eating anything or anywhere, you’d expect the food and preparation of the food to be of the best quality.  Imagine eating from an establishment where the food was not cooked well and the kitchen you often are not allowed to step inside of was not kept clean or properly managed to serve the customer the best meal possible?  Thankfully Koll has been stopped and I just hope that this serves as an example to anyone out there who is misleading their customers into thinking that they’re providing the public community with healthy meals and service.

By: Diony Jasmin, Class of 2015

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