Dining Hall station closes after Board of Health issues violation

by Beacon Staff • November 2, 2005

Emerson students who frequent the dining hall may have noticed that a lunchtime favorite is missing. Due to an unspecified health code violation last week, the lunch display station, known for its burritos and pastas, has been temporarily dismantled, according to an Aramark official.

The Board of Health made Aramark, the international company that provides dining services for Emerson College, aware of the infringement during a random inspection on Oct.17, according to Gloriana Walker, the administrative secretary for the Health Division of Inspectional Services.

"We are in the process of building a new display station in order to make it suitable for the Board of Health," said Phil Wallach, an Aramark manager.

Detailed information about the violation was not immediately available from the Inspectional Services Department. Wallach said Aramark would not release details about what caused the station to be removed or when it will return.

Many dishes normally served at the display station will be available at the Legrain and Legume counter until the display station returns, Wallach said.

While some Emerson students said they are upset about the loss of a popular lunch option, freshman marketing communications major Grace Konrad said she is happy to see that the problem is being fixed and health codes will be upheld.

"I think it is kind of uncomfortable [to learn] that it was a health hazard," Konrad said. "I'd rather see it come down if that was the case."

Konrad said she also thinks students have a right to know if the problem has been corrected before the station is reopened. According to Walker, the station will have to pass another inspection before it is reinstated.

Because the details of the violation have not been released, some students said they were confused as to the source of the health hazard. Freshman audio/radio major Matt Shearer said the "display station" appeared to be as clean and safe as the rest of the cafeteria.

"I don't get it," Shearer said. "We all eat our food in here. It's no different than eating in a kitchen."

Patrick Zornow, a senior TV/video major, said he understands the importance of the dining hall adhering to the health code. During the fall 2002 semester, Zornow, then a freshman, was hospitalized when he contracted food poisoning. He believes he became ill after eating in the dining hall.

Zornow said he was vomiting and suffering from severe stomach pains and went to the Center for Health and Wellness, where he was referred to New England Medical Center. He said a representative from the center called him a few days later and told him they believed the improper cleaning of a dining hall soft-serve ice cream machine had caused the food poisoning.

Jane Powers, the director of the Center for Health and Wellness, said that several students reported illness following that year's "late-night buffet" hosted by the dining hall.

"To the best of my knowledge, no clear source [of the food poisoning] was found," Powers wrote in an e-mail. "The center saw six to eight students that experienced nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea."

She said that several, but not all, of the afflicted students ate the soft-serve ice cream. This prevented the Center for Health and Wellness from pinpointing the machine as the cause of the problem.

Even though the soft-serve machine was not proven to be unclean. Aramark voluntarily shut it down as a precautionary measure after the incident.

Powers said she could not release any further information about the students because of confidentiality laws.

Zornow said his experience caused him to become more cautious when making dining hall selections. "I am definitely more aware, especially of dairy products," he said.

David Rosen, vice president of Public Affairs, said he has no knowledge of either incident.

Of the most recent health code issue, Rosen said,

"It is Aramark's decision to make, and if they said they needed to take [the display station] down, then that is what they needed to do."

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