It is a relief that Dining Services is implementing changes to the way it approaches food safety issues. But the fact remains that the peanut butter cracker incident, in which potentially tainted crackers were left on shelves, was bungled in almost every possible way.
The first mistake was obviously that the crackers were left out on a shelf in plain sight when almost every major newspaper and television station in the country was reporting on the massive recall of products made with peanut butter. The crackers being left on the shelves can be explained as an honest mistake, but what followed the discovery cannot be so easily justified.
When first questioned, Dining Services employees said the crackers had been removed from the shelves and then returned after Bistro Burnett received a memo that said the crackers were safe. Unfortunately, the employee could not recall who wrote the memo, where it came from or what happened to it.
Rick Flores, general manager of Dining Services has been slow to respond to Skiff reporters’ requests for information regarding whether any crackers were sold to students and if anyone reported an illness.
Also, no information was distributed to students or faculty who might have purchased the crackers via e-mail or otherwise after the problem was discovered.
It’s a good thing that the department is willing to re-evaluate what steps can be taken to prevent this from happening again, but it is equally important to re-evaluate the way things are handled in the aftermath of a mistake.
The university community places its trust in Dining Services every day, and an important aspect of that trust is not only that the food we purchase is safe to eat, but also that we can depend on them to let us know immediately if, for whatever reason, it is not.
Opinion editor Katie Martinez for the editorial board.