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Bad Food Problems Continue at Walker

By Shawdee Eshghi
Staff Reporter

Efforts to improve food service at Walker Memorial's Morss Dining Hall in the wake of last year's discovery of a "worm-like object" in the corn took a hit last week with further revelations of improper food handling.

About a week and a half ago, Emma H. Heitzman '01 was startled to discover that the milk left out as coffee creamer at Walker had soured. When she alerted a cashier, she was told that the manager had been told about the problem. The cashier "said that they already knew [that the milk was sour] but that nothing had been done," Heitzman said.

Walker Memorial's Director, James Dillon, said that the sour milk was not a problem because hot coffee causes milk to curdle. Dillon said that he had been informed that the milk was sour butt chose not to replace it. "If there's a real problem, we'll do something about it, but come on, we don't do blatant things like that," he said.

Kathy Richmond, an Aramark official, also said that the heat of the coffee would eliminate the effects of the sour milk, but she said that the incident was "disturbing in and of itself." She said that she was "disturbed by the response of the cashier" and said that the cashier herself should have gotten fresh milk.

Walker had previous problems

This incident comes less than a year after other food service and handling problems were reported at Walker. Last February, a student found a "worm-like object" in corn served at Walker. The problem was traced to the wholesale provider, Sysco, and MIT Dining officials refused to purchase corn from Sysco until its quality could be assured. Richmond said that Walker has resumed purchasing corn from Walker. "The corn issue is over," she said.

Also last spring, the City of Cambridge Department of Inspectional Services found several important food handling violations. Most of the violations involved failing to serve and store food at the proper temperature.

After a violation is filed by the Department of Inspectional Services, the institution has ten days to remedy the situation. If the problem is not solved after that time period, the institution will be shut down.

At Walker, several refrigerators were fixed and food handling techniques were modified to meet Cambridge standards. "I can assure you that any problem regarding the health department was taken care of immediately," Richmond said.

The entire building was also steam-cleaned at the end of August in response to reports of roaches and roach droppings found in and around Walker last spring, Richmond said.

Despite these measures, however, some students are approaching the idea of dining at Walker with more caution. "I found [the sour milk incident] pretty disgusting... I'm trying not to eat there as much... I cook more now," Heitzman said.