Representatives from Aramark and Loyola Dining claimed zero responsibility for the string of foodborne related incidents which struck Loyola’s campus during November and December.
In an interview with The Phoenix, Dione Moore, Aramark Higher Education Central Region District Manager, and Julie Mosier, General Manager of Loyola Dining, said there have been no “verified” cases of foodborne illness stemming from Loyola Dining locations.
Moore said no Aramark employees were affected by any supposed illness. He also cited a recent health inspection of Damen Dining Hall completed by the city Dec. 17, which showed the facility passed with no food preparation related violations.
“Regarding complaint, food handlers wash hands, wear gloves, wearing masks and aprons, internal temperatures were taken of [time/temperature control for safety] foods and met internal temperature requirements,” the inspector wrote in the report.
There was one violation issued related to a lack of displayed warnings of dangers in eating “ready-to-eat” foods — food prepared in advance which is not cooked or reheated upon service. Loyola Dining has now posted such warnings.
Despite this, The Phoenix reported Dec. 10 university officials said they were aware of “an uptick in gastrointestinal illnesses” and that preventative measures were being implemented in the dining halls.
“The university is working quickly to ensure no other students, faculty, and staff are impacted,” university spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach wrote in an email to The Phoenix Dec. 9.
Moore confirmed Aramark instituted enhanced safety measures in Loyola Dining facilities that are still in place as of publication. On Dec. 9, a change in service was put in place where students could no longer serve themselves and employees have to handle all food, and explained that serving utensils are being sanitized more often.
Moore claimed these changes were put in place as COVID-19 precautions. Nine days prior, The Phoenix reported it found twenty instances of students claiming to have gotten sick from food served in Loyola’s dining halls.
At one point Mosier brought up that Aramark had sent “care packages” to sick students, which included energy drinks like Powerade. However, she did not answer follow-up questions regarding how Aramark knew students were sick or what they were sick with.
Reportedly the university told parents concerned with issues within Loyola dining over email that illnesses were stemming from an outbreak of Norovirus — a stomach virus which can spread through touch, food and water — on campus.
However, Moore and Mosier denied this claim and said Aramark has no knowledge of any such virus or that the university had been giving this explanation.
“Loyola University Chicago has no evidence of foodborne illness at Loyola Dining, nor have we confirmed any cases of norovirus within our community,” university spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach said in an email to The Phoenix. “The Division of Student Development and Wellness Center staff have spoken with concerned parents and students directly.”