Let us eat lettuce at C-Club

“Definitely got food poisoning from C-Club” read a text message from my roommate around 9 p.m. last Tuesday. She continued to tell me about how sick she had become after eating a Buffalo chicken sandwich with lettuce.

At first I was skeptical. Anything can make you ill. Maybe the stomach flu was going around. As I brought this up to her, she shot down my claims.

“There’s no way,” she protested. “My friend and I ate the same thing, except he got his sandwich without lettuce and he was fine.”

Later that night, I learned that my suitemate had gotten just as ill from a wrap with lettuce the previous weekend.  She told me about how she was sick within 15-30 minutes of consuming the tainted wrap.

While it is tough to say for sure that what ailed my roommate and suitemate was food poisoning, and it is even tougher to prove that the lettuce at C-Club was responsible, one can never be too sure.

But, being a woman of high suspicion, I vowed not to consume any lettuce from C-Club. I don’t have time to become ill from botched Romaine.

Am I telling all of you to swear off C-Club? Absolutely not. I still eat at C-Club regularly, but I don’t like to worry that perhaps the lettuce could make me ill.

So I decided to investigate. Exactly what does C-Club do to prevent food bourne illnesses?

“Health and Safety Standard Procedures are what we use to clean fresh food,” sophomore C-Club employee Tracy Wiesbrook said.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health’s Web site, there are three main causes of food poisoning. One of these types, Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli, is “a bacterium that lives in the intestines of most healthy warm-blooded animals, including humans. There are hundreds of strains of E. coli, and most are harmless.” However, there are strains that are capable of making individuals incredibly ill, such as O157.

If produce is not washed thoroughly by C-Club employees before being served, it can cause an E. coli infection with symptoms much like thoe experienced by my roommate early last week.

I would assume that C-Club washes its produce; if not, it would have been shut down by the Health Department.

According to Wiesbrook, all the food is washed thoroughly.

“Basically, just like any other food service, we wash any fresh food,” Wiesbrook said.

Although C-Club is viewed as safe and clean, there could have been one individual who happened to have grabbed freshly washed produce without putting on gloves, or without changing the gloves they had worn while working with other foods.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health “The most common sources of E. coli outbreaks are inadequately cooked hamburgers, produce—such as melons, lettuce, spinach and coleslaw—and unpasteurized dairy milk. Persons who work in certain occupations, such as food handlers, day care providers and health care providers, have a greater risk of transmitting infection to others.”

This makes it easier for students and C-Club workers alike to be more susceptible to E. coli infection.

There should be a constant watch over the food preparation methods in C-Club. Gloves should be changed consistently when handling different types of foods and all tools and cutting boards used to prepare these foods should be washed thoroughly as well. If these methods are implemented consistently, it would greatly reduce the risk of illness for students who eat at C-Club.

“We have rigorous training and quality assurance processes to ensure we meet very high standards,” Stacey Puck, head of Dining Services  said.

C-Club constantly meets the highest health standards as demanded by the state of Indiana.

“Serving safe, nutritious and quality food is our top priority,” Puck said.

Was my roommate’s Buffalo chicken sandwich  ruined by the lettuce she consumed which could have been touched by bare hands? It is entirely possible. It is also possible that she became ill from eating something else.

We should all rest easy knowing that C-Club’s food production standards are the highest they can be, and we can continue to eat their meals.