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  • Alan Cohen, Staff Writer

Goudy implements changes after undercooked chicken incident

Students eating Goudy food. Art by Lucy Devlaeminck.

On Dec. 3, 2023, a batch of undercooked chicken was served at Goudy Commons. Shortly thereafter, the management team at Goudy changed some of its cooking policies and food safety standards. 

Two days after the incident, the Office of Student Affairs sent a campus-wide email stating that 12 to 15 servings of undercooked chicken strips had been served, and Goudy staff immediately instructed students to dispose of them. The email mentioned that Goudy “uses a standardized time system when cooking each batch and uses a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) process to ensure the correct internal temperature is achieved.” The email also reassured, “While this process has always been [the] standard, [Goudy is] ensuring that all staff members receive extra training and can demonstrate that they understand these important food safety protocols,” adding that the raw chicken was believed to be an “isolated incident.”

Goudy has approximately 65 part-time student workers and 55 full-time workers. It has been managed by Bon Appétit Management Company — a company that runs over 1,000 public restaurants and dining halls at universities, museums and corporations — for 31 years. 

General Manager Eric Thomas has been working at Goudy for five years, nearly two of them in his current position. He stated that on the day of the incident, an employee who was new to the company was put in charge of the station and was instructed on how to properly fry the chicken and measure its temperature. “From my understanding, that was all followed, but we still failed,” he stated. As a consequence, Goudy has since added a step of putting the chicken in the oven after it’s fried. Currently only supervisors are allowed to perform that final task. 

Thomas stated that Bon Appétit regularly trains all of its employees — including its student workers — on food safety, allergies and safe practices. Workers in higher positions, such as supervisors, chefs and managers, have additional training and certifications in food safety and dietary restrictions. “We try to be as diligent as we can as far as safety goes.”

The Oregon Department of Health, in partnership with Marion County Environmental Health Services, conducted a safety inspection the day after the incident and awarded Goudy a 100% score. According to the Marion County website, “inspections focus on food temperatures, food preparation practices, worker hygiene & handwashing, dishwashing and sanitizing, equipment, and facility cleanliness.”

Bon Appétit also manages Rick’s Café, located inside the Willamette University Law School, which also passed the inspection that same day with a score of 100%. 

Another important consideration with mass cooking is food restrictions, as it is estimated that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. Joy Conrad-Mogin (‘27), who is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts and crab, explained that Goudy “make[s] the food separately. Usually what [students with allergies] get is chicken and rice and some sort of vegetable — there’s not a lot of variety.” Conrad-Mogin added that she had to go to the hospital three times last semester after coming in contact with cross-contaminated ingredients at Goudy and is consequently now cooking her own meals regularly. 

Goudy works with Accessible Education Services to provide a group of students with food accommodations with tailored meals that have been cooked under strict food safety protocols to avoid contamination. These protocols can include “cleaning the entire area, changing your apron, changing your chef coat, [and] using completely different utensils, cooking equipment, knives, and cutting boards,” Thomas stated. In addition, to avoid cross-contamination, there is a separate area in the dining hall where food is cooked without gluten and there are separate utensils and materials like a toaster and waffle maker.

Students are encouraged to contact Eric Thomas with suggestions or concerns about food safety and dietary restrictions at Goudy Commons or Rick’s Cafe. More information on food safety can be found on Bon Appétit’s website

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