Aramark Correctional Services, the prison food vendor in Michigan, was recently caught serving maggots with potatoes and then ordering inmates to keep their mouths about it, according to published reports. And why not? State prison kitchens are exempt from food safety inspections because they are not defined as “food establishments” under state law. prisonexterior_406x250A pair of bills in the Michigan Legislature would change that, one by removing the exemption and the other by making state prison food vendors pay for the costs of inspection. House Bills 4748 and 4749 are now under consideration in the House Oversight and Ethics Committee. The Michigan Legislature is currently in recess, but lawmakers resume work in a couple of weeks, with the adjournment date for 2015 yet to be determined. Aramark Correctional Services is a unit of the Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. It claims a 97-percent retention rate for its contracts with state and federal prisons. Earlier this year, Aramark Sports & Entertainment fired a veteran health officer charged with food safety for its Kansas City venues after the official let city inspectors know about problems at the facilities. The Detroit Free Press has reported on repeated food safety problems at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility near Jackson, MI, and that an Aramark supervisor had told inmates not to talk about it. A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections claimed it was an “isolated incident.” Michigan replaced 370 state workers by contracting with Aramark beginning in December 2013. The company won a 3-year, $145-million contact to provide food services for Michigan’s 43,000 inmates, but there have been numerous problems with food quantity and quality, among other issues. A state official hired to oversee the contract reportedly left in January after just five months in the job. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)