STAFF EDITORIAL: Continue to Improve Food Safety

OUR POINT THIS WEEK:

Butler should exercise more concern over the food on campus and Hold Aramark To higher standards | 24-1-2

Butler University has three on-campus dining options for community members, all of which are serviced by Aramark.

Aramark is a global food services industry that partners with many colleges and universities across 22 nations.

Despite its use in so many locations, the company does not have the finest reputation at Butler, thanks to a number of health violations at the campus’ three dining options in 2011.

While health and safety at these eateries appears to have gotten better since then, the majority of The Collegian’s staff feels Butler needs to continue ensuring Aramark is held to high standards when it comes to keeping food safe.

Nate Haugh, the Dining Services interim director, said Butler and Aramark do not necessarily collaborate in all food safety ventures.

Collegian staffers are aware of experiences they or individuals they know have gone through while dining on campus that would suggest there are occasional slips in abiding by these rules.

Such incidents included students becoming ill shortly after consuming chicken salad and sushi (in separate instances), a student purchasing expired skim milk from  the Atherton Union and a student buying undercooked chicken tenders.

While these described incidents may not have been reported to Dining Services or as straightforward as food directly leading to a student being sick, the fact that students are concerned they may be purchasing less than safe food on campus should cause Butler and Aramark to take action.

Haugh said he was unaware of any confirmed student illnesses caused by food in Butler’s dining courts this school year.

He added, however, that he was aware of an incident involving a female student eating part of an undercooked chicken sandwich and later becoming sick. At the same time, Haugh said, there was nothing that indicated to Aramark that the girl became sick directly from the company’s food.

Whether or not this female student became ill as a result of eating Aramark food, one case of possible food poisoning is too many. Aramark has procedures in place to prevent this from happening, so they should be followed at all times. Just as importantly, Butler needs to hold Aramark accountable for doing so.

Haugh said Aramark corporate employees perform monthly assessments of Butler’s dining courts, and Aramark employees must take a safe food handling class within 90 days of being hired.

He also said Aramark employees are told not to attend work if they are sick.

These are clearly good steps to take to ensure food safety in Butler’s dining courts.

However, if the topic of substandard food safety is part of campus community discussion at all, perhaps not every rule and regulation is being followed to the T.

The university expects Aramark to follow all state and federal health and safety guidelines while also providing facilities employees to assist with kitchen equipment concerns.

Based on Aramark’s history of health violations on campus, it is surprising Butler’s role in Aramark’s health and safety procedures is not larger.

At the same time, Aramark should follow all necessary procedures to be certain the three dining areas do not obtain a combined 60 health violations, as they did in 2011, ever again.

Haugh said there are several key rules and regulations that employees are instructed to follow and are taught about upon being hired. Great attention is paid to time, temperature and employee hygiene, he added.

Cold food must stay below 41 degrees, and hot food must stay above 135 degrees. Employees keep logs to prove the food was at an appropriate temperature, and protein sampling is done in case a specific meat or fish is a possible culprit of a reported student illness.

Food temperature must be checked when products are delivered on campus, and food outside its appropriate temperature for four hours or more should not be used.

It is the duty of both Aramark and Butler to keep this school’s students safe when they take a bite or sip of any food or beverage in the campus’ dining courts.

 

*All questions and concerns should be directed to EIC Colin Likas at clikas@butler.edu

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