Food Poisoning: the Dining Hall Policy

By Laurence Herfs

 A few weeks ago people started talking about feeling nauseous. Was this just your regular winter flu, or was it an outbreak of food poisoning? Stories travel fast on campus and soon people started suspecting Dining Hall. Sodexo has been in the news before for similar issues. 

There is no need to worry,” says Dining Hall Manager Keesjan van Spronsen. “There was no such thing as an outbreak of food poisoning. There was one person who felt ill and approached us about this.”

This is the usual way gossip spreads. One case is blown out of proportion during talk over coffee in the break – but how about that actual case?

“As it turned out, he didn’t have food poisoning, so we decided not to take any further action. We have certain policies we are forced to implement, such as checking the temperature control and intake control. Had it been a serious case, we could have sent samples to the lab,” said Van Spronsen.

We asked him to explain a little further. “Dining Hall is a combination of foods we make ourselves and pre-fabricated foods, like the yoghurt. We order those, so if something is wrong with them, it is the responsibility of the producers. However, of the foods we prepare ourselves we always take a small sample that we store for a week. After that long, food poisoning won’t occur. In a case like the one a few weeks back, we can send the samples in for testing.”

Keesjan himself is the one responsible for the menus. He takes us back to the kitchen, to the three big silver fridges. Opening them reveals stacks of boxes with little tubes with red lids and small nametags. Beef, rice, pasta, and fruits: small sampled portions of our lunches and dinners are all stored there.

He tells us that there was an actual case of food poisoning a few years back. “We had all the food he ate tested, but the test came back negative. It later turned out he had eaten food off-campus too.” That is why, according to him, policies in Dining Hall are strict. “Sometimes your stomach is just not having a good day and you get nauseous, but if it gets more serious, we need to make sure we know what caused it.”

As much as we like complaining about Sodexo, it seems that when it comes to food regulations, they have their business sorted out just fine. So remember: Though their food isn’t really healthy or tasty, there’s nothing you can sue them about.

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