University News

Campus eateries found selling expired food

By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Herald investigation, conducted in response to reports of spoiled food at campus eateries, found expired food for sale at Little Jo’s and Campus Market.

All the milk for sale at Little Jo’s Oct. 2 had a sell-by date of Sept. 30. On Oct. 3, every chickpea salad at Campus Market had a use-by date of Oct. 1, while all of the tabouli and black bean salads were labeled to be sold by Oct. 2.

Students have also told The Herald they have found expired food on the shelves of the Blue Room and the Ivy Room.

Gayatri Mehra ’14 said a friend who attempted to buy milk in the Ivy Room a few weeks ago found all of it expired. An Ivy Room staffer told the friend all of the milk in storage was also expired, Mehra said.

Brown Dining Services switched milk distributors about three weeks ago, around the time reported problems began, said Aaron Fitzsenry, Dining Services’ culinary manager for retail operations. Dining Services experienced “bumps in the road” during the transition, he said.

Dining Services has strict procedures in place for ensuring only good food goes to eateries, said Ann Hoffman, director of administration for Dining Services. “It is our protocol to check code dates every single day at the start of business hours, and everything out of code should be disposed of,” she said. “I can’t explain why that didn’t happen. It should have happened.”

Mathew Kelley ’14 said he has found food spoiled before its printed expiration date. “I’ve been in the Blue Room on several occasions and Jo’s once or twice and gotten yogurt that was unfortunately moldy,” Kelley said. Kelley, who works as a supervisor at the Ivy Room, said he encountered these problems as a customer.

Dining Services’ supplier for Chobani yogurt dropped some cases, causing the seals on individual containers to break and allowing mold to grow, Fitzsenry said. “It was a couple of cases that we quickly identified, isolated and pulled out of rotation,” he said.

Each eatery relies on different people to check the products, Fitzsenry said. At all units, a professional is responsible for marking products with dates upon receipt to ensure they are properly put into stocking rotations. At larger units, such as the Gate, Josiah’s and the Blue Room, a professional is also responsible for stocking the shelves. “When he puts things on the shelf, he’s checking dates. So somebody has their hands on that product everyday — checking dates everyday,” Fitzsenry said.

Smaller, student-run retail units like Campus Market are more difficult to keep track of because students are responsible for stocking the shelves, Fitzsenry said.

Dining Services regularly passes random inspections by the Rhode Island Department of Health “with flying colors,” Hoffman said. The Department of Health did not return multiple requests for comment.

“We undertake a number of measures to ensure the health and safety of the food we are serving,” Hoffman said. “It is the most serious thing we do everyday.”

Hoffman encouraged students to report incidents to eatery managers. “Whenever this happens, we will refund the money and replace the product,” she said. “But we will also be on top of figuring out what’s going on so that other people don’t have the same unpleasant experience.”

“It’s hard to pin-point whether it is student-related or professional-related,” said Kelley, the student Ivy Room supervisor. “We are always checking dates though.”

No students interviewed for the article linked spoiled food to any illness they or friends had experienced. Health Services rarely treats students for food-borne illness, according to Edward Wheeler, director of Health Services.