Marquette’s dining and catering services fuel a hungry population: college students. The university is a “zero food waste” community but leftfoover food ends up being thrown away unless it meets various quality standards.
“As a company and a campus community, we try for zero food waste,” said Kevin Gilligan, the general manager of Sodexo Campus Services, in an email. “However, food safety will always be our top priority.”
Sodexo, a leading food service company that serves 9,000 locations in North America, sources Marquette’s kitchens and follows specific regulations to maintain its fresh food products.
The Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code, another food regulations source, identifies five risk factors to food-related illness: improper holding temperatures, inadequate cooking, contaminated equipment, food from unsafe sources and poor personal hygiene.
The company’s partners must follow the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points that presents seven important food safety guidelines about sanitizing, monitoring temperatures, preventing contamination, conducting inspections, sanitizing and operating a safe organization.
Catering services donate several pounds of bakery items and prepackaged food every week to Campus Kitchen, a student run organization that uses leftover food to prepare meals for the hungry.
The donated food is not contaminated, but falls short of Sodexo’s food quality standards.
“We save and donate what we can, but our main priority is to offer safe service to all who would be consuming the food that we put out,” said Sarah Huber, the student manager of catering and a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences.
Gilligan said the staff considers time and temperature abuse during catering events—when food is held for four or more hours at temperatures over 32 degrees but below 140 degrees.
“After four hours, the rate of bacteria growth grows exponentially and therefore could make the food unsafe,” Gilligan said.
If the food is not monitored at all during an event, it must be thrown away because someone could have unintentionally contaminated it.
“All food is maintained as best as possible to the correct temperatures so that it does not go bad,” Huber said. “The policy more has to do with food being set out in open spaces where there is a multitude of people coming up and grabbing it which could lead to contamination.”
Huber said the policy may seem wasteful, but its main purpose is to maintain the health and safety of others.
In addition to following U.S. food regulations and Sodexo’s company guidelines, Marquette’s food services follow state regulations for food safety.
Wisconsin’s Food Code from the Department of Health services outlines many regulations, such as clear instructions for employee personal cleanliness, including its “Special Handwash Procedure.”
It also contains regulations for specific foods such as wild mushrooms, molluscan shellfish and ice, which must be made from drinking water.