Loyola sophomore Marii Herlinger went to de Nobili Dining Hall on the morning of Nov. 16 expecting to have a normal breakfast. But instead, she found what seemed to be a dead bug in her fruit mix.
“I just went to de Nobili, got fruit from the blackberry strawberry medley and found this weird wormy [thing],” Herlinger said. “It was furry and had legs, and it was small but sizable still,” Herlinger, 19, said.
Herlinger isn’t the only student who’s had a run-in with critters in Loyola’s dining halls, causing some students to question the quality of the food and the cleanliness of the quarters.
Zalia Cook, a 19-year-old sophomore, said she found a dead spider in her food from Damen Dining Hall in February, and just recently almost ate moldy bread from de Nobili Dining Hall. Cook said her experience has caused her to go to restaurants around campus more often. She added she prefers the made-to-order options in the dining halls.
“I also try to do more of when they cook things for you … because with the other food, you don’t know how long it’s been sitting there.”
She said she hasn’t reported either incident, but if something happens again she would file a report.
Aramark, the company which provides the food in Loyola’s dining halls and on-campus cafes, also handles the food at prisons, hospitals and other universities around the country. Aramark has faced questions about food quality — at Loyola and other universities — in the past.
Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler said in a statement to The Phoenix that Aramark works with the health department, which inspects the company’s operations. Aramark also conducts its own inspections, according to Cutler.
During a September 2011 inspection, Chicago’s public health department found “brown and pink mold-like substances” in an ice machine and dripping into ice, The Phoenix previously reported. But the facility, which wasn’t revealed on the health department’s website, received a “pass with conditions” status, meaning the health department found issues but they were corrected during the inspection. At the time, an Aramark spokesperson told The Phoenix the ice machine wasn’t in use, so it didn’t impact the inspection.
A student at Butler University reportedly found a bug in his Aramark-run dining hall food in August, the Butler Collegian, the school’s newspaper, reported.
During a January health department inspection of a Barnard College dining hall — which was run by Aramark — evidence of mice and filth flies were found, the Columbia Spectator, Columbia University’s student newspaper, reported.
Cutler said every complaint is taken seriously, but Loyola Dining Services hasn’t received any complaints or concerns. She said anyone with concerns should submit feedback through its website or contact Aramark managers at Loyola.
Cutler said the food production process at Loyola is sanitary and Aramark’s food is safe to eat.
“We maintain rigid standard operating procedures for the entire flow of food production,” Cutler wrote. “This includes providing an environment that protects the safety and integrity of food from its delivery, throughout its storage, preparation, transport, and ultimately, to the point of service to the customer.”
Kate Bennett, also a Loyola sophomore, joined the group of grossed-out students who’ve found insects in their food, with her experience happening just before Thanksgiving break. She said she found what appears to be a snail in her blueberries when eating lunch in Damen Dining Hall.
Bennett, 20, said she told a dining hall employee about what she found, and the employee removed the tray of fruit, but didn’t ask any further questions. Bennett said she lost the critter before she could show it to the employee, but she had caught it on video. In the video, the snail-like animal is moving.
She said no one from Loyola followed up with her about the incident.
“I would have definitely liked someone to have followed up with me or just held me for another minute that day and said ‘Actually, can we get your name?’ and then maybe gotten an email for an explanation why the snail was there,” Bennett, an English and art history double major, said.
Herlinger, an advocacy and social change major, said she didn’t report her incident partly because she was shocked and disgusted by finding the insect, and partly because she didn’t know how to go about the process.
Herlinger said since finding the bug, she’s continued to eat at Loyola’s dining halls because she doesn’t have another choice, but she steers clear of the fruit medley.
First and second-year students who live on the Lake Shore Campus are required to have a meal plan, per the university’s Department of Residence Life.
They are given a five- or seven-day “all-access” meal plan, meaning they can use the three dining halls on the Lake Shore Campus and select options on the Water Tower Campus all day either five or seven days a week. These plans range from around $2,550 to $2,700 per semester.
Julie Mosier, who oversees Loyola Dining, referred The Phoenix to Cutler when asked for comment.
Disclaimer: Herlinger wrote for The Phoenix during the fall 2017 semester.
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