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Dining Hall Dangers

Katherine Lipuma, ‘Doah Contributing Writer
April 2, 2014

The cafeteria here at S.U. can be a very dangerous place to eat. Those with food allergies are particularly at risk. The buffet style in which the food is presented leaves many opportunities for cross contamination and the mislabeling of food. If the students and cafeteria staff were more aware of the dangers that lie in food preparation and service, it would create a safer eating environment for students with life threatening food allergies.

The dishes prepared in the cafeteria look very creative, but someone with a food allergy needs to know exactly what is in each dish before filling their plate. Signs posted around the cafeteria might generally state what is being served but these signs do not always specifically state what is in each dish. Anything from the oil used in the pan to the spices added for flavor could be an allergen. And there is no way to know if the food was prepared in a shared, unwashed pot or pan with these allergens. Food that is prepared in front of you, such as the eggs, are prepared on a grill that is not washed between orders, so even when you make the decisions as to what is going in your food you still cannot be sure there are no traces or particles of food left behind.

While, I understand the convenience needed to feed a large number of people, this is very dangerous for those with food allergies. This opens up the problem of cross contamination. Everything is all in one space and even though they all have their own spoons or tongs, food particles drop all the time. Someone could be making their salad and scooping the hard-boiled eggs into their bowl. If one slice of egg falls into the adjacent container of peppers and someone with an egg allergy comes along and decides to put peppers on their salad they are now at risk of an allergic reaction.

I think that if the cafeteria went with a more simplistic approach to the meals they prepare it would enable safer eating for those with food restrictions as well as give the student body the option to make their dinner what they want it to be. The cafeteria needs to not just feed the students but it also needs to be aware of the many dangers it has posed to students with such food restrictions.

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