Facebook photo sparks complaints over residence hall food


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Residence-hall food is catching heat after a photo of what appears to be a bug in a Burge Marketplace dish gained attention on Facebook this week.

Dining officials said they responded to the issue and removed the item from the menu when they heard about the incident in November 2011. But some students say they are still concerned about the quality and safety of the residence-hall food.

UI freshman Lauren Carr said she was eating at Burge in November and found something that resembled a maggot in her Korean pork. Carr said that after she found it, she went to the Burge office to report it.

Carr posted the picture on the Internet, but it didn't stir much interest until this week, when it was reposted on the UI Facebook page, garnering feedback from dozens.

Burge Marketplace manager Anne Harkins said she was aware of the situation and responded to it appropriately.

"I spoke to the customer in person when it occurred months ago," she wrote in an email. "We took [the] item off the line immediately and notified the distributor."

Harkins also said that after the incident, she stopped purchasing the Korean pork product.

UI officials could not say how many similar complaints they've received. Leaders in the Housing and Dining Department said that after they receive a comment or suggestion, they respond to it; the complaint is not kept for record.

"We don't keep it after that," Harkins wrote in an email. "There are a few customer suggestions and our responses on our housing/dining website."

The dining hall website has an online comment section in which students and guests can convey suggestions or concerns about the food or dining experience.

Some residence-hall residents said the photo has turned them off to dining-hall food.

"After that maggot picture went viral, I have begun to feel cheated out of my $8.50 every time I go there to eat … I hate everything about Burge food otherwise," UI freshman Katie Gerlach said.

UI freshman Alex Cohee also panned Burge food after seeing the photo.

"The overall quality of Burge food is not bad," Cohee said. "The maggot did change my opinion on the food safety and quality of the food, however."

After the problem, Carr said, she did not get sick, but she said she no longer eats at Burge.

"I definitely don't eat there unless I have to," she said. "I think I have been there once."

Still, UI freshman Natalie Roytman, a friend of Carr, said Burge handled the situation well and hopes officials will continue to look closely at the food.

"I'm glad Burge took it off the menu, but in the future, they should inspect all food and meat for the health of the students," Roytman said.

DI reporter Elise Dilger contributed to the reporting of this story.

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