Florida’s prison system had already fined its food provider $241,000 this year over staffing and supply issues. And then 277 inmates said they became sick last month after eating chili. The April 25 incident at a Panhandle prison has raised the latest question into the performance of Aramark Corp., which took over prison food service in 2001 as part of former Gov. Jeb Bush’s privatization push, reports the St. Petersburg Times.
The latest incident happened at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton. Prisoners complained of diarrhea and upset stomachs. The problems did not persist, and health officials have not determined whether the chili was the cause. But the situation has added to ongoing trouble for Aramark, a powerful Philadelphia company that has been at the forefront of outsourcing efforts nationwide. Already this year, Florida has fined Aramark $241,499 for slow meal delivery, insufficient staffing and other contract violations, according to records obtained by the St. Petersburg Times. An Aramark spokeswoman said the company is cooperating with the investigation into the April 25 sickness.