Senior Bo Chen found a green cabbage worm at the bottom of his salad on September 4th, after not eating at Douglass Dining Center for over a year. Now, he doubts he will ever go back.
Chen, who found the worm after getting through most of his meal, said, “It’s pretty disgusting, you have to admit.”
In earlier decades, such an incident might have warranted immediate calls to speak to a manager. But in this digital age, Chen’s first instinct was to post the picture on UR’s Facebook page, “Overheard at Rochester.” That’s how Dining Services found out about it.
They have since taken a solution-oriented approach to the incident.
Though their attempts to reach Chen were unsuccessful (Chen said he never received any communication from Dining Services), they were able to trace the source of the bug back to the lettuce, which came from a brand called Romaine Hearts, according to Director of Dining Services Cam Schauf.
“Just thinking about the pounds of lettuce we go through […] in a week we’re talking thousands of pounds of lettuce,” Executive Chef Tony Pignagrande said. “This is the first time I’ve heard of a worm.”
This is not surprising when one is informed of the meticulous process food goes through before it ends up on our plates. Dining Services takes care to re-wash produce that comes in triple-washed, and has been using the same produce vendors for over 10 years.
Now, extra training will be added to enable employees to thoroughly sift through the produce ㅡ and not just lettuce, either. The team has also reached out to their vendors to talk with them about how the lettuce was processed and washed.
“I feel confident in what we already do […] and I think another layer makes me feel even more confident,” said Pignagrande. “We’ve taken the proper steps to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
Schauf and Pignagrande encouraged students to continue to provide direct feedback, both positive and negative, to Dining Services.
Though avoiding Douglass Dining Center is a feasible option for students, avoiding campus dining altogether is not. The team at its various locations on campus prepares around 45,000 meals a week for UR students.
By finding a chef in a white coat, using the Voice of a Customer app, or leaving thoughts on Douglass’ napkin wall, which managers regularly check or respond to, students can help Dining Services respond quicker to issues that arise.
“We’re here to help everyone have a good experience,” Pignagrande said. “That’s why we work here.”
Correction (9/23/18): An earlier version of this article did not specify the date that Bo Chen found a green cabbage worm in his salad.