Bad Broccoli: Student Finds Bugs in Food at Locke’s Loft-Gourmet Dining Drops Produce Supplier

Last Monday, April 2, a student eating at Locke’s Loft discovered several small insects in a piece of broccoli, both the student and Gourmet Dining Services confirmed.

Elizabeth McCabe, a sophomore on the rowing team at Manhattan, sat down for dinner with several teammates around 6 pm and had started to eat before discovering what she described as a “nest” of dead bugs in her broccoli.

“I had eaten a couple pieces and I go to cut this big piece, and in it I see all these bug-looking things […] I counted at least five before I pushed my plate away, it was disgusting how many there were,” said McCabe.

McCabe and her friends carefully examined the piece to confirm that what they were seeing were indeed insects.

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Gourmet Dining cuts ties with their produce supplier. ELIZABETH MCCABE / COURTESY

“There were plenty of other people around, almost all of the girls on my team that I was sitting with had broccoli in their plates, and so everybody, once they saw that- we were telling people [nearby] in the cafeteria ‘Don’t eat the broccoli.’”

After taking a picture of the find and debating what to do for several minutes, she attempted to seek out manager on duty before bringing the dish to several staff on the main line where the broccoli was being served. McCabe said the staff briefly apologized, took her plate and removed the broccoli tray from the line, without speaking to her further.

That evening, she texted one of the courtesy phone numbers posted around the dining hall about the incident and received an automated text in reply. The following day, she attempted to send an email regarding the incident to Gourmet Dining but did not receive a response.

This find comes a few months after a small screw was found in a student’s wrap purchased from Kelly Commons Marketplace. Incidentally, that student was one of McCabe’s rowing teammates.

Brian Weinstein, resident district manager for Gourmet Dining, was not initially aware of the incident and stated via email that he would “begin investigating immediately.” He explained that the email listed on the college’s website which McCabe initially attempted to contact was inactive and it has since been updated with his own.

“We purchase our produce from J. Kings based in Long Island. All our produce is fresh and delivered daily,” said Weinstein.

J. Kings Food Service, a private company based out of Holtsville, N.Y., has been in operation since 1974. They have been supplying Manhattan College with food for over two years, according to Weinstein.

He explained that the produce served on campus, of which over half is organic, is used on a “first-in, first-out” basis to ensure freshness. Upon delivery to the school, the food’s temperature is taken before it is labeled and dated, then cleaned and washed twice before it is prepared for consumption. Some product comes pre-cut and pre-washed in J. Kings own packaging.

When incidents similar to McCabe’s occur, Gourmet Dining quickly takes action to address the issue and remove the product in which something is found.

“Everything is discarded immediately and we report to [the] vendor.” said Weinstein.

Word about the broccoli spread and the picture McCabe took made rounds around campus over the following 24 hours. She overheard several people talking about the find during her subsequent visits to Locke’s the next day.

She says that the experience will make her exercise greater caution in deciding what to eat on campus.

“Finding an occasional this or that in the food like lettuce and stuff, bugs are always gonna get into lettuce, I know you can’t do [anything about] that,” said McCabe. “But something like that, plus a screw… In one year I’ve heard so many gross things about Gourmet Dining and Locke’s and all those different places where people are finding stuff in their food that I’m moving of-campus next year and I’m cooking my own food.”

In the event of future issues with food, Weinstein encourages students to speak up about anything they may find wrong. He added that after this incident and other negative experiences in the past, Gourmet Dining will “no longer be using J. Kings.”

“Please bring [similar problems] to management’s attention ASAP. All dining locations have a manager on duty at all times and anything a customer finds unsatisfactory should be brought to their attention.”