University News

Dining Services discontinues Shanghai partnership for semester

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, May 14, 2012

Brown Dining Services stopped serving food from Shanghai Restaurant after a student found a grasshopper in noodles purchased at the Blue Room at the end of April. Hot food from Shanghai was previously available in the Blue Room every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and packaged sushi from the restaurant could be purchased at Dining Services’ retail locations around campus, including the Blue Room and the Gate.

Over the summer, Dining Services will reevaluate their agreement with Shanghai and decide whether to resume serving their food, wrote Jacques Larue, director of retail dining, in an email to The Herald.

Kening Tan ’12, the student who found the insect, said she noticed what she thought was a cockroach after she had eaten about half of her meal. She immediately notified the student manager, who alerted the shift’s culinary manager. Though they offered her a refund and another meal, Tan said she was surprised they did not immediately stop serving the food from Shanghai. Tan said she requested that they take a picture of the insect and keep it to inspect later.

Later that day, she sent an email to Linda Whittaker, assistant manager for retail operations at the Blue Room and Campus Market, who responded the next day saying Dining Services had ended their relationship with Shanghai for the time being.

Larue wrote that Dining Services “notified Shanghai of the incident and informed them that we would stop purchasing from them until the issue could be resolved.” He added that they also requested that Shanghai notify them of the measures they take to ensure food safety.

Ray Hugh, Shanghai’s owner, said the restaurant is not necessarily to blame. “The insect could have come from anywhere,” he said. “We’ve been serving food for nine years without incident,” he added. “This is very peculiar to us.”

Tan and others originally thought the insect was a cockroach, but when the Blue Room’s culinary manager examined it more closely, he discovered it was a grasshopper. “This would suggest the insect may have been present in the raw vegetables and missed during food preparation rather than having contaminated the food during or after preparation as a cockroach would,” wrote Ann Hoffman, director of administration and human resources for Dining Services, in an email to The Herald. 

Dining Services has had no prior incidents relating to unsanitary food. 

“It is worth noting that Shanghai has been a reliable supplier and that we have had no prior incidents relating to food safety from the food we have procured from them,” Larue wrote. 

“I just really appreciate that they took action so fast after they discovered this occurrence,” Tan said. She added that she did not expect Dining Services to end its relationship with Shanghai so quickly. “I’m glad they didn’t say they terminated the business relationship entirely, forever,” she said.

She said she thought the higher-level managers of the Blue Room handled the incident well, but that the students and culinary shift managers need more training on how to respond to situations like hers. “They should have taken more prompt measures,” she said. “Had I not reported this directly to the manager, I don’t know if it would have been solved this effectively or not.”

Other students had mixed feelings about the decision to stop serving food from Shanghai.

“I think they made the right choice, but it would be nice if they could replace it with something else,” said Sydney Silverstein ’12. 

Kevin White ’12 thought Dining Services acted appropriately. “I’m 100 percent agreeing with this move. I mean, it makes sense – how often do you find roaches in food?”

Caleb Weinreb ’15 disagreed. “If people are still willing to eat at the restaurant, I’m still willing to eat their food,” he said.

Dining Services’ business relationship with Shanghai began this academic year after a year of serving Kabob and Curry. Following Shanghai’s removal, Kabob and Curry is now offered at the Blue Room every day, rather than every other day.