Janelle Marchand, a second-year philosophy student at St. Thomas University, has something in common with many Memorial University students: she has gotten sick from the food served by Aramark.
“I’ve had food poising from the butter chicken,” said Marchand.
Aramark is a multinational corporation that handles food preparation for many institutions, including St. Thomas University. They have come under fire recently for allegedly feeding students rotten and undercooked food at Memorial University in Newfoundland.
Safety inspection reports only prove that food storage units at MUN dining halls were not maintaining proper temperature — two this month and one last. The issues were corrected before the inspector left each time.
Wynn Gruffydd is the Food Services Manager for Aramark at STU. He says the situation at Memorial is unfortunate, but that it has been blown out of proportion because of social media.
Gruffydd said that there are strict guidelines in place to ensure food safety.
“Food is only ordered from authorized suppliers,” said Gruffydd. “If any items do not fit standards we fill out a rejection log.” The food is then thrown away.
Gruffydd said that he rarely hears complaints about food safety, and that any incidents are “negligible.” Marchand does not agree.
“We are constantly reporting incidents, and complaints, and the only ones that they ever take into consideration are the ‘negligible ones.’”
It’s not just substandard food Marchand is worried about. She said the actual labelling of food is often wrong. This can have devastating consequences for students with allergies.
“[I] almost ate deserts with nuts in them,” said Marchand. “I’m allergic to nuts…They do not want to mark specifically which desserts have nuts on them. I’ve asked them many times to mark it for the safety of the student.”
Gruffydd said that if students have a problem, they should refrain from just throwing the food out, and report it to someone from dining services.
“It’s key that if any of this happens that we know about it, so we can fix it,” said Gruffydd.
Marchand said that Aramark has been made aware. She is also the sports representative for Vanier Hall, and meets with Aramark periodically.
“We have a meeting with Aramark once a semester, and in our last meeting Aramark did not listen to any of our complaints,” said Marchand. “I went up to residence life after the meeting to tell them…They told me it was an ongoing issue that they are aware of.”
The Aquinian contacted residence life, but they refused to comment on, or confirm any complaints against Aramark.
The cafeterias in George Martin Hall and at the Forest Hill Residences both passed their last health inspection. This was not true of the Subway and Tim Horton’s located on campus, and run by Aramark.
Both Subway and Tim Horton’s were given a “Dark Yellow” grade. The Department of Health defines this as, “general compliance with no more than 3 major violations.
In their last inspection, performed on March 19th, Tim Horton’s received one major violation for leaving bagels, rolls and doughnut glaze uncovered.
In Subway’s last inspection, performed on the same day, they received three major violations, and two minor ones. The major violations were; not verifying temperatures of refrigerators twice a day, not checking temperatures of hot food every four hours, and sanitizer not being at the right concentration.
Gruffydd said that these violations have been corrected.
“It’s fixed. It’s all done,” said Gruffydd.
Gruffydd said that all employees in the food preparation process have to complete an initial 15 hours of food safety modules, and that continuing training occurs throughout the year.
Marchand thinks the university is suffering because of its food offerings. She points to the declining number of students living in residence.
“A lot of my friends are leaving campus [because of the food],” said Marchand. “I think lot[s] of students would be willing to continue paying for the price of residence, if the food was better.”
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