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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Bug in student’s food causes concern

Whether they are waiting in between classes or are exhausted after a big exam, students can rely on on-campus dining options to provide them an easy meal without a second thought. However, this past week gave many students reason to think twice about where they eat at UH.

Pictures of what appeared to be an maggot on a brownie from Fresh Foods began circulating last week on social media, and more pictures like it came in the days following. Many students voiced their opinions, including media production freshman Michelle Debelen, who was present at the initial incident.

“I felt a little traumatized afterwards,” Debelen said. “I didn’t know what to do, but my friends took it to the people in the dessert area and informed them of the maggot. The person working there said she would tell her manager. As we sat near the dessert section, we noticed they didn’t remove the brownies and continued to serve them.”

University officials involved with dining and health safety were notified soon after the incident.

The maggot allegedly found in a student’s brownie. | Courtesy of Abigail Mendoza

“University of Houston Dining Services, Auxiliary Services and Environmental Health and Life Safety are aware that an image is circulating online that purportedly show contaminated food alleged to have been served in the Fresh Food Company,” said UH Dining Services Director of Operations Shannon Mariani.

“We take such allegations extremely seriously. We have spoken with the student who reportedly took the photo and are investigating the claim thoroughly.”

Mariani, along with Joe Tremont, director of Environmental Health & Life Safety, and Deborah Davis, assistant director for Auxiliary Services took The Cougar on a tour through Fresh Foods Company to demonstrate some of the procedures in place to maintain a clean environment. Constant hand washing, floor sweeping and frequent visits from the health inspectors are just the beginning.

“Sanitizing is far more than a singular act and is more of a disciplined programmatic approach to everything we do during our daily operations,” Mariani said.

“We maintain rigid standard operating procedures for the entire flow of food production. This includes providing an environment that protects the safety and integrity of food from its delivery throughout its storage, preparation and transport and ultimately to the point of service to the customer.”

Many students had strong reactions to seeing the photo, including mechanical engineering sophomore Conner Judson.

“It has definitely kept me from eating at Moody at all,” Judson said. “I think that says enough.”

Other students haven’t had quite as extreme a reaction, but still express reluctance.

“This event, and the posts on social media it’s incited, reflect student’s cynicism toward the dining halls,” Debelen said. “I feel a bit uneasy about visiting a certain dining hall, but I believe honest mistakes are made.”

Mariani and Tremont also encouraged students to inform management of any problems or questions they might have concerning the sanitation levels of the dining halls. Incidents are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are all treated with the same amount of importance.

“We do ask anyone who has a concern about food safety or quality in any of our campus dining establishments to please let management know immediately so the situation can be addressed and rectified,” Mariani said.

“Input from customers is very important and allows us to provide the best service possible.”

Students can call 832-842-5989 or email [email protected] if they have concerns about any of the dining facilities on campus.

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