“I saw it at the very bottom of my plate,” freshman Lily Picquet said.
She screamed when she saw it mixed into her salad.
Last week, Picquet bought a salad from the Simply To-Go station in the Harrington Place Dining Hall. She brought her salad back to her dorm and emptied the container out onto a plate when she saw a caterpillar in the leafy mix.
Picquet said she was glad she poured out the salad.
Otherwise, she likely would’ve eaten the insect.
She posted an image of the caterpillar in a Snapchat group chat and it quickly created widespread talk around campus questioning the dining hall’s food safety procedures.
Picquet brought her salad back to the dining hall and spoke with Tammy Hill, Sodexo resident district manager, about the event.
Picquet said she was offered a free meal as compensation for the mishap. Hill said that they reached out to their vendor, Creation Gardens, immediately and reported the caterpillar incident.
But this isn’t a common occurrence.
Sodexo District Manager Kyle Grover said all produce is sanitized and bagged and is shipped to campus. Then the produce is put into a bowl and sorted through to check for foreign items.
If unwanted items are found in the produce, the dining hall reports the event to their vendors so they are able to find the batch it was from so they can inform other clients of the event.
“There’s too many people we serve to take any risk,” Hill said.
As many as 3000 students come through the dining hall every day.
The dining hall has many cleaning and food safety procedures in place to keep employees and students safe, and with new employees coming in frequently. As a result of the caterpillar incident, Hill and her team realized they need to revisit their training.
“When things like that happen, it makes us understand that we can’t do too much training,” Hill said.
All employees who handle produce were retrained on procedures.
Despite the discovery, Hill wants every student to know they can bring any concerns to dining hall staff.
“If you come across anything, they just need to let us know, because we can fix it,” Hill said.
PHOTO: The snapchat shared around of the caterpillar in Picquet's salad.
This story was written by Ben Burton