Only months after tensions between MUN’s residence dining services, administrators have been faced with yet another food scandal. This is in the wake of a Change.org petition aimed at improving the quality of services, signed by over three thousand individuals , started during the winter of 2019. However, issues with the dining service date back to 2015, (as reported by CBC), and the company itself has been subject to criticism beyond operations at Memorial. Issues have included feeding prisoner’s inedible food, firing and penalizing would-be whistleblowers, and near complete impunity from state or university investigations.
In spite of this, it should be noted that when MUN conducted a private investigation of a Newfoundland E. coli outbreak, they were unable to detect any “major problems”. This is found in direct contradiction to experiences had by students which has seen fragments of plastic, steel wool, and cigarette butts in their meals.
As stated in their third follow up alert to students on the matter: “Memorial’s Environmental Health and Safety department accompanied Service NL on an inspection of Gushue Hall on Sept. 30. There were no major issues identified. The inspector stated that there is no obvious cause for concern at this time and it appears there are processes in place for food safety.”
MUN appears ignorant to ongoing reports in Ontario concerning Aramark’s connection to another E. coli outbreak at Loyalist College involving romaine lettuce.
As the tally of students potentially afflicted reaches twenty-two, individuals exhibiting symptoms of E. coli are urged to seek consultation from their family physicians. As Service Newfoundland and Eastern Health continue their investigation with Memorial, the true extent and severity of the outbreak remains “unknown”. What might be an attempt at de-escalation, was the observation that only eleven of the twenty-one students with symptoms are living on residence (and by proxy, mandatory patrons at Dining Hall.) While this does not address the crisis faced by the remaining ten patients, it is likely not a concern to sick students who spoke with CBC this week. Like many students who are faced with the compulsory cost of Gushue’s food plans (approximately $2600 per semester), many students have no choice but to continue eating at the cafeteria by sheer financial necessity.
“I hadn’t eaten anywhere, besides the dining hall, since the beginning of September. Other people that have presented themselves with the same symptoms that I have, have only been eating at the dining hall too. They all stay on campus.”– Brooke Shiner, a residence student at Memorial, currently facing treatment for E. coli, was interviewed by CBC:
This further eliminates the chances of an external cause for the epidemic, and furthers the likelihood of student agitation. The only question is will Aramark take the heat or get out of the kitchen?