The Daily Gamecock

Column: USC's quality of food, unsanitary practices is subpar

<p>FILE–An exterior picture of Russell House Sunday afternoon Nov. 8, 2021. Recently, students have raised complaints of receiving raw food.</p>
FILE–An exterior picture of Russell House Sunday afternoon Nov. 8, 2021. Recently, students have raised complaints of receiving raw food.

From uncooked chicken and raw dough in pizza to unhygienic food preparation practices, the problem of food in dining halls and retail locations at USC should be taken more seriously and hastily corrected.

For a university meal plan that students use almost every day there shouldn’t be situations where students are paying for unhygienic food and getting sick from it. These instances have been reported by several students with university meal plans having no other options to get food at USC.

“I'll see people working places and prepping food without gloves on, or cleaning something or taking the trash out with gloves on and not changing them and then serving or making food,” Stephanie Beynon, a first-year exercise science student, said.

Under no circumstance should gloves not be worn or changed if dirty when dealing with food. Hygiene is extremely important in food preparation and distribution and can lead to serious food contamination and sickness if not handled properly.

“I feel like it contributes to illness on campus,” Kadin Martin, a first-year pre-international business student, said. “What goes into the food is really important so we have to make sure that were practicing adequate kitchen protocol.”

Students' health and safety is important and if students are getting sick from campus food, the problem should be handled quickly. One incident resulted in a student getting sick from a steak quesadilla.

“I got my Twisted Taco and everything was fine," Payton Ruth, a first-year nursing student, said. "When I woke up the next morning for class, I just was not feeling it at all ... I started throwing up violently." 

These problems are coming from many Carolina Food Co. dining and retail locations, but specifically in Russell House. Twisted Taco, Chick-fil-A and Gamecock Park happen to be where the problems are occurring.

Raw and uncooked chicken from Gamecock Park and Chick-fil-A have been documented by students with university meal plans and shared across social media.

According to Faren Alston, marketing director for Carolina Food Co., it conducted an independent third party audit of Russell House operations which resulted in high food inspection scores. 

“Our food safety processes and procedures are industry leading," Alston said in an email to The Daily Gamecock. "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.”

Other issues like cross-contamination also need to be handled. Students shouldn’t have to fear that they will ingest something that will negatively impact their health.

“I and other people that I know will find hair in my food sometimes or food that shouldn't have been mixed with other food,” Beynon said. “Sometimes it's something that I'm allergic to.”

The severity of these food and sanitary issues is affecting students' health and safety, especially since some students' options are limited to the university meal plan. Student’s with the meal plan rely on using it almost every day and if the food they eat is badly prepared and served, it can lead to health concerns.

“It definitely makes me feel like they don’t care about the health and safety of their students,” Beynon said.

The university should be attentive and keep watch of unhygienic practices and preparations of food as well as the quality of food that students pay for. Hygienic practices should be well taught and enforced in order to prioritize the quality of food for the health and safety of students.