Sodexo responds to food safety concerns

Sodexo, the university’s catering supplier, recently responded to concerns about cross-contamination in the area of ​​student dietary restrictions.

Juan Dominguez, Managing Director of Sodexo at the University of New Haven, and Samantha Zajac, Dietitian in Food Services, spoke to clarify procedural precautions in light of student concerns.

Dominguez said the company has assigned food handlers with certain restrictions, such as vegan meals and gluten-free items, and said labeling systems are in place to designate different product categories.

“We have specific equipment, and we color [food] to make sure that day to day things don’t go in the wrong direction,” Dominguez said of the allergen-friendly prep.

Zajac then talked about Simple Servings, the university’s hot station for allergen-sensitive foods. “Everything is purple and we have lowered the sneeze guards so that students do not come to help themselves to avoid cross-contamination. We have plates behind the line that the attendant will pick up and place the item(s) requested by the student,” she said.

Counters like those at MyZone and other hypoallergenic sections are cleaned when service is open for Simple Servings, which notably isn’t open all day. Cleaning takes place at the beginning and end of the day, between uses where cross-contamination may possibly occur and between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., when the hot station is closed.

According to Zajec, all items in these cabinets are labeled and their current protocols, which outline disposal dates, allergen labeling and more packaging and cleaning protocols, are both more hygienic and environmentally conscious. cross-contamination, which reduces the risks.

As for the utensils, the couple said any cross-contamination issues had yet to be considered until the item was placed on their radar. “No one has brought this up yet,” Zajac said. “But in the meantime, if that was a problem, I would suggest we use the plastic [utensils].”

“We can install silverware or plastic dishes, if they want to make sure they’re totally protected from contamination,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez also mentioned a new addition to Bartels. Starting this week, a separate salad bar will be added for students with dietary restrictions and allergy concerns.

Zajac went on to discuss the required allergy training that Sodexo, as a business, organizes as standard for its employees. Interactive allergy training is provided to all staff twice a year and records are kept.

Fifteen staff members also hold Allertrain U certifications, which indicate five years of training in food allergies, including celiac disease. This is in addition to the food allergy topics discussed weekly, as described by Zajac.

“It’s important that we have those checks and balances in place,” Zajac said.

On several occasions, Zajac and Dominguez have said they want students to voice their questions and concerns because they consider communication to be an essential part of ensuring student comfort and safety at the university.

“We sometimes have a hard time knowing student feedback,” Zajac said, “if we don’t know, we can’t help and make sure their needs are actually being met.

Zajac works with many students who have allergies and restrictions on campus, and encourages others to seek advice with any food-related concerns. The pair are very open to suggestions, comments and concerns, and have raised awareness of the wide range of different restrictions present across the student body.

Appointments can be scheduled with Samantha Zajac through her reservations page.

They both want the students to address any incidents they may have with cross-contamination issues in the dining halls, as at the moment they find very little is being brought to their attention.

Dominguez said that every day, Sodexo is aware of dietary restrictions and values ​​awareness in its services.

Comments are closed.