After confirming recent outbreaks of illnesses caused by Salmonella have been traced to peanut butter and peanut paste, the Food and Drug Administration has issued massive recalls on the product throughout the country.
The Salmonella scare has many consumers, including Temple students, concerned about the safety of peanut butter consumption.
“I wasn’t even aware of the Salmonella incident, at least not in peanut butter,” said Suzanne Solberg, a sophomore education major. “There’s always peanut butter in the cafeteria.”
To ensure the safety of its foods, Sodexo, the university’s dining service provider, works closely with safety and training manager Marianne Borgese-Bogucki.
In early January, when the Salmonella outbreak was first announced, certain products containing peanut butter were removed from campus eateries for safety precautions.
“We receive a list of foods from different companies that proved to be fine. That’s why we still have the peanut butter Tastykakes. All of our food has been approved,” Borgese-Bogucki said. “The last thing we ever want to do is make someone sick, so we need to make sure all precautions and regulations are in place.”
All university Dining Services managers are sent urgent alerts during recalls and are forced to immediately pull products that could possibly be contaminated.
Borgese-Bogucki said foods provided by Dining Services are safe and uncontaminated.
“We work with Sodexo, a worldwide company, and we only purchase foods from approved vendors,” Borgese-Bogucki said. “That is our policy for all foods, chemicals, paper goods and those types of things.
“We go online to buy our food, and it’s monitored,” she said. “The companies we deal with have to be fully insured, follow government and state regulations and comply with food safety rules.”
It can take two years for a vendor to be approved. The process is taken very seriously, not just because of good business practices, but also because it’s morally the right thing, she said.
Peanut butter and peanut butter products have also been approved in the Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria, the Valaida S. Walker Dining Court in the Student Center, the Diamond Club, Lucky Cup Cafés, Starbucks and at Ambler Campus eateries.
Temple’s food policies and regulations are not associated with the 7-Eleven on Liacouras Walk and other campus vendors.
Junior journalism major Milan Vracarich has chosen to ignore the Salmonella scare and is still enjoying peanut butter products.
“I’m definitely not going to stop eating peanut butter,” Vracarich said. “All of my peanut butter has been purchased a long time ago, so I feel pretty safe. I definitely plan to continue to eat peanut butter products because peanut butter is quite delicious. I haven’t gotten sick yet, so I think I’m safe.”
Solberg said despite her initial unawareness that an outbreak existed, she is going to continue eating peanut products.
“I actually had a Butterfinger the other day,” Solberg said. “I’m shocked now that I found out, but I’m still going to eat it.”
Taara Savage-El can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.