First-year Loyola student Hanna Paulowski said she went with her roommate to get some late-night food at de Nobili Dining Hall during the week of Sept. 16. Paulowski said she grabbed a vegetarian taco and sat down with her roommate.
“I was just kinda looking at it … [and] it just didn’t look right,” the 19-year-old communications and environmental science major said.
She said she then realized there was a bug in her taco.
Paulowski’s not alone. She’s one of at least five students with similar critter horror stories. Bugs in food have been found in all three of Loyola’s dining halls — Simpson, de Nobili and Damen — in just over a month since classes began, according to students.
Paulowski said she was unsure whether to just ignore it or if she should tell a worker about it. Instead, she said she dumped the food and got a salad, making sure to check it was free of any critters.
Paulowski isn’t the only student to experience this. Within the past month, four videos have surfaced on Instagram revealing insects found in dining hall food from the Lake Shore Campus.
On Sept. 18, Christine Macke, a sophomore studying political science and anthropology, said she went to de Nobili — located in the southern part of the Lake Shore Campus — with her roommate. About halfway through eating, she said she noticed an insect crawling on a chunk of pineapple, she said.
“I just saw this little black speck … I turned it over and there was a bug,” the 19-year-old said.
She said she set the food aside and took out her phone to record the bug as it made its way around the pineapple.
Another student, Max O’Meara, a 21-year-old senior studying biochemistry, said he found a small, green, worm-like insect on his plate after eating a salad in Damen Dining Hall on the north side of campus.
O’Meara said he just finished eating his plate of salad when one of his friends pointed out that something on his plate was moving, he said.
“It was like a little caterpillar inching across my plate,” O’Meara said. “I’m glad my friend pointed it out before I ate it.”
The other videos, visible on the Instagram account @barstoolblers, show a winged insect on a plate of food at Damen, and an unknown insect-like object baked into a muffin in de Nobili, according to the videos’ captions.
The issue of insects in food at Loyola’s dining halls isn’t new, with at least three bugs found in food last year, The Phoenix reported.
Most students who live on campus are required to purchase a meal plan, according to Loyola’s Department of Residence Life website. Meal plans can range in price from $840 to $2,760 per semester, the website showed.
Aramark — the company that operates food services at Loyola and many other universities, hospitals and prisons — has been criticized in the past for unsanitary practices at Loyola and other institutions, The Phoenix reported.
Aramark said they take matters such as these seriously, according to Sophia Bamiatzis, district marketing manager for Aramark at Loyola.
“We maintain rigid standard operating procedures for the entire flow of food production and are committed to providing a positive, safe, and healthy dining environment,” Bamiatzis said in a statement to The Phoenix.
Bamiatzis said food safety and customer experience is very important, and that all concerns about food quality are taken seriously and investigated.
Aramark also encourages any students with questions or concerns to speak to a manager on duty so immediate attention can be given, Bamiatzis said. Aramark can’t pinpoint the time and location of the incident, and can’t reach out to the people who posted videos on an anonymous account Bamiatzis said.
The incidents have caused some students to be more wary of eating in the dining halls and check food thoroughly before eating.
“I’ve been super careful to check [the food],” Paulowski said.
She also said she tries to avoid the pre-made food options, choosing the options where workers cook the food to order instead.
Other students say they even if they don’t want to eat in the dining halls, they don’t really have a choice.
“It’s made me want to eat there less, especially after seeing the other videos, Macke said. “It’s not like there are any other options.”
A November 2017 inspection of an Aramark-run dining hall at New York University revealed “evidence of mice, filth flies and hot food held at less than 140 degrees Fahrenheit,” the Washington Square News, the school’s newspaper, reported.
New York University didn’t renew Aramark’s contract for the 2019-2020 school year, the Washington Square News reported.