Apr 272004
Authors: Christiana Nelson

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

Medical Encyclopedia.

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

residence halls.

Freshman Stephanie Whinery, a resident in Braiden Hall,

understands the need to keep food fresh and said the campaign

cannot hurt.

“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.”

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