By Caroline Ryan
Senior criminal justice major Mia Vetri said that she was served undercooked steak at Winnick Dining Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 31.
Vetri did not immediately contact a supervisor or staff on duty, but went to the Aramark office in Hillwood Commons the next morning with a photo she had taken of the undercooked meat. Vetri is still waiting for Aramark to get back to her regarding the incident.
Vetri posted a photo of the raw meat she was served at Winnick on her own personal Facebook page. Under the post Vetri wrote, “So this is the shit my school tries to feed us. Over $50,000 a year for THIS? We should be getting gourmet meals! First there’s mold in the drink machine now raw bloodied meat?! LIU Post do better! We are forced to pay for Winnick, forced to pay to basically play the guessing game on whether we will get sick or not. This is unacceptable!”
Students and alumni responded to Vetri’s Facebook post. “It’s not the first time I’ve heard stories about the food at Winnick, but how long can they continue serving food like that? Totally unacceptable and I hope LIU Post does better considering how much dormers pay,” Charlie Moerler, alumnus, class of 2016, wrote.
Vetri threw the under cooked steak in the garbage and does not plan to eat meat at Winnick for the remainder of her last semester at Post. “I probably won’t eat anything at Winnick besides the salads. For actual food, I’ll probably stick to Hillwood or off campus foods,” Vetri said.
Student complaints about Winnick are not new. As the Pioneer reported in “Cleanliness of Winnick Dining Hall,” a student found mold in the bottom of her cup. Promptly after the publication of the article on Nov. 29, Aramark made changes at the Winnick dining hall.
On Oct. 17, 2017, Isabelle Ruten, a junior musical theatre major, sent an email to Edward Taraskewich, Aramark’s Resident District Manager, regarding undercooked chicken at Winnick Dining Hall, along with photos of her raw chicken. Justin Poly, Aramark’s food service director, replied to Rutens. “After further review it was Chicken Teriyaki thighs. This protein appears different than chicken breast when it’s cooked – so I can see the appearance might throw people off,” he wrote. Poly attached the daily temperature log that Aramark uses to ensure that food is cooked properly to his response to Rutens. “As you can see from Ed and myself’s reaction – serving undercooked food is a big wrong in the kitchen and we work to rectify it immediately…” Poly added.
Poly did not respond to the Pioneer’s email. Instead, the Pioneer received a reply from an Aramark district manager regarding the matter.
According to an email sent by Simone Harper-Register, district manager for Aramark, “We take all customer concerns about food quality very seriously, and investigate every concern that is brought to our attention. We learned about this concern through social media posts but the product was not brought to a manager or staff member so we cannot validate it.”
Harper-Register wrote that Aramark had served over 185 portions of meat on the evening of Jan. 31, and did not receive any concerns. She further stated that Aramark had checked the daily menu logs that are kept for every item cooked and served, and found that the meat was cooked to proper temperature specifications.
“We did use [Vetri’s complaint] as a teaching moment with our staff to reinforce our food safety processes and procedures which are industry leading,” she wrote. “We maintain rigid standard operating procedures for the entire flow of food production. This includes providing an environment that protects the safety and integrity of food from its delivery, throughout its storage, preparation, transport, and ultimately, to the point of service to the customer,” Harper-Register said.
Students are encouraged to speak to Aramark staff on duty in Winnick if they have questions, concerns or comments about undercooked food.