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Maggots found in potatoes at G. Robert Cotton Facility

State corrections officials confirmed Tuesday that lunch at a Jackson prison was interrupted Tuesday when an inmate and private food worker discovered maggots in raw potatoes they were preparing.The incident was at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson. The department had similar issues with maggots in potatoes at least twice last year.

Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz said the warden shut down an inmate food serving line and ordered staff to thoroughly clean the kitchen and any equipment that might have come into contact with the adulterated potatoes, which were discarded.

The liberal group Progress Michigan said it received a tip that potatoes containing maggots were cooked and served to inmates while under supervision of the department’s private food vendor, Aramark Correctional Services.

Progress Michigan, a frequent critic of the privatized three-year $145 million prison food service agreement, called Tuesday’s incident “the latest scandal in a long line of issues related to the state’s contract with Aramark.”

The company, which contracted with the state in December 2013, had a rough start that included employees fired for being overly friendly or engaging in sexual contact with inmates, complaints about food shortages or substitutions drug smuggling.

“The time for a full investigation of Aramark is long past due,” Progress Michigan executive director Lonnie Scott said in a statement.

But Gautz had a differing version of the incident. He said an Aramark employee noticed maggots in potatoes being cut up for lunch and pointed them out to an inmate kitchen worker, who notified an officer on duty.

After the kitchen was scrubbed, he said, workers substituted a new meal of chicken patties and pasta for the intended lunch of sloppy joes and potatoes. Gautz said no inmates became ill.

While critics blamed Aramark for several maggot infestations last year, prison officials and the company concluded some might have occurred because of Corrections Department warehousing practices.

“We’ve looked into the warehouse issue and feel that has been resolved,” Gautz said. He said the department is still is investigating the source of the latest maggot problem.