When a late-night craving hits after residence hall dining
hours, what may seem like common sense can escape students with
growling appetites and nowhere to go.
But students may now think twice before grabbing for their
dining hall to-go box because of one simple addition: an orange
The sticker cautions students to avoid consuming left-over food
after it has been “temperature and time abused,” said Deon Lategan,
director of Residential Dining Services.
Cherian Potherican remembers late nights in Ingersoll Hall when
he would get hungry after-hours.
“As a college student we tend to grab anything that’s edible and
we rarely stop to think about whether it has been kept out,” said
Potherican, a sophomore electrical engineering major.
Despite health measures taken in university dining halls,
Lategan said it is time for students to become aware of the dangers
of ill-handled food.
“In the dining centers, we devote considerable effort and
resources to keeping the food we serve safe,” he said. “We follow
rigid procedures in our facilities and are constantly monitoring
food and equipment temperatures. Additionally, we keep samples of
the food we serve for testing to ensure that we do everything
humanly possible toward optimum food safety.”
The recent sticker addition is part of a dining services
educational promotion, which includes partnering with University
Health Services to produce weekly table cards that provide
information on nutrition and health-related topics.
Lategan said he hopes education will change students’ tendency
to eat aged food.
“It is our hope that these food-safety stickers will be a strong
reminder to students to promptly eat or refrigerate their food once
it leaves the dining center,” he said.
The most common symptoms of food poisoning begin two to six
hours after consuming the food and may include nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, fever, weakness or headache, according to the MedlinePlus
After eating at a Chinese restaurant when she was 12 years old,
Danielle Cunningham can attest to food poisoning’s severity.
“I got it from beef broccoli in a Chinese food restaurant,” said
Cunningham, a sophomore technical journalism major. “I had severe
vomiting for two days and it wasn’t a very pleasant experience. I
don’t even like eating Chinese food anymore.”
Cunningham said that she believes the campaign will make
students more cautious and aware of potential food dangers.
“I know that I saved food for way too long and it is a good
reminder for people, even if you’ve already gotten (food
poisoning),” she said.
Lategan emphasized the importance of food safety and said a
warning sticker on to-go boxes will become a permanent addition in
Freshman Stephanie Whinery, a resident in Braiden Hall,
understands the need to keep food fresh and said the campaign
“I lived in Hawaii and they were not always smart about the
food. They would leave the dressings outside and people got sick,”
said Whinery, a business major. “I think it’d be common sense not
to eat old food, but it is good to have reminders.”
Patricia Kendall, extension specialist for the Department of
Food Science and Human Nutrition, said it is important to have
intelligent eating choices, especially in situations like the
residence halls, where students often do not have
“The main thing is to get food into a cold environment,” Kendall
said. “I think it is a great idea to raise the awareness that
perishable food does have a shelf life.”
While refrigerating Styrofoam maintains the freshness of food as
effectively as other storing methods, such as Tupperware, Kendall
said that leftover perishable foods should not be kept much longer
than a week prior to consumption.
Potherican said he agrees with the campaign because of his
experience with students not realizing the possible consequences of
consuming perishable food left at room temperature.
“It is appropriate that the dorms are taking measures to make
sure students know what they are doing,” Potherican said.
“Precaution is better than cure.”