You can consider rumor about laxatives flushed

Here’s something else to be thankful for: Temple’s eateries aren’t dishing out enemas. The rumor that dining halls add laxatives to foods served in cafeterias has been circulating throughout college bathrooms for years. The rumor

Here’s something else to be thankful for: Temple’s eateries aren’t dishing out enemas.

The rumor that dining halls add laxatives to foods served in cafeterias has been circulating throughout college bathrooms for years.

The rumor comes and goes, semester to semester, according to the Director of Administration for Sodexo Peter Beers, who has worked at Temple for 14 years. Sodexo works in partnership with Temple Dining Services.

“The problem is the rumor exists not just here, but at every college in every situation and it will wax and wane with the semesters,” Beers said. “The new students are told by the upperclassmen, ‘Don’t eat in the cafeteria, they put laxatives in the food. It’s self-perpetuating because the freshmen who were told that last year will tell the freshmen the next year.”

A common misconception is that dining halls add laxatives to stimulate excretion of bacteria such as salmonella, botulism and E. coli in the event of food poisoning.

But an expedited process of emission has no effect on eliminating symptoms of food poisoning and potential lawsuits to the university.

“Once the food goes in your mouth, the process of contamination starts,” said Kimberly Buck, a senior research technician and laboratory supervisor for the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.

“Your body knows there is something that shouldn’t be there.”

Beers also said laxatives don’t effectively detoxify the body after contamination.

“The basic premise to stave off contaminated food is unrealistic because the contamination would enter the body much faster than the laxatives could get the food out,” Beers said.

Each week Sodexo serves approximately 56,000 meals a week at the Louis J. Esposito Dining Court and the Student Center’s Valaida S. Walker Food Court, according to Beers.

“If any one product was contaminated with a food-borne illness pathogen, there would be dozens, if not hundreds, of people affected and sick,” Beers said.

Though some may experience symptoms of diarrhea after frequenting campus eateries, registered dietitian for Temple Dining Services Julie Rhule advises students to take a closer look at the foods they are eating.

“If you’re choosing just fried foods and you’re not including salad and fruits and vegetables, that may cause some General Index distress. But everybody is very unique.” Rhule said.

“What may cause problems for me is very different than what may cause problems
for someone else. It’s just making sure you’re choosing things from the broad picture and working healthy items in as well.”

Before pointing fingers at cafeteria food, students should first examine their eating and drinking patterns outside of Johnson and Hardwick and the Student Center. A little too much alcohol and pizza on a Saturday night may lead to an unpleasant experience at Sunday morning brunch.

“Alcohol acts as a poison. It goes through your intestine and it inflames all the micro villi that are in your intestine,” Rhule said.

“The next time you are eating it reacts, and you can see this dumping syndrome that can occur.”

Rhule said you have to know your body and how it reacts to different foods and beverages.

“Realize what you’re putting in your mouth and if you have an adverse effect, think about what you ate that day and try to avoid it or make different choices,” she said.

Will Temple Dining Services ever be able to flush this urban myth of surreptitious mass medication?

“Not likely,” Beers said. “But the honest to God’s truth is there is no justification for putting laxatives in food by any company, at restaurants or in cafeterias — it’s just wrong.”

Leigh Zaleski can be reached at


  1. the reason students feel sick from what they eat at the school cafeteria is because their food is really gross. i normally eat really healthy food and i STILL get sick because its crappy food. could it be a coincidence that i get sick everytime i eat at j&h? i dont think so.

    • I eat healthy as well. I don’t have problems with my stomach at home. It’s only when I eat this food. It’s extremely painful. I read the article above, and one stated it could have something to do with alcohol consumption..I don’t drink. I’m underage. I’m physically fit and healthy. I hate having to pay for food that is so bad for me. It’s the only thing I can eat. I live in an isolated town with little to no restaurants available. It’s disappointing.

  2. I am starting my sophomore year at school. Our university provides Sodexo food products. Last year, I had severe issues with my stomach. Doctors said it was stomach ulcers due to stress. However, when I’m home, I never have those issues. Now that I’m back at school, I am showing and feeling the same symptoms. My friend and I carefully judge what we eat throughout the day. Yogurt, cottage cheese, a bagel, and fruit in the morning for breakfast (which is a normal breakfast for me) caused me to feel really sick about half an hour after eating. We eat salads, fresh vegetables, maybe a tuna sandwich or wrap for lunch, and still have problems. I don’t even touch half of the meat offered because it’s either processed or not cooked properly. Since there have been so many complaints and discomfort from so many students, why isn’t the problem being fixed. I’m required to pay for food that is detrimental to my body. I don’t like that very much.

    • In case no one else noticed… no one in the article blatantly states “There are no laxatives in the food at Temple.” The Director of Administration avoids saying this because if he does, he will get sued, because there are laxatives. This is a well-written persuasive essay written by a Temple student (under his restrictions). And although this is eloquent, it’s obvious that this essay is beating around the bush, throwing words like ‘rumor: circulating story or report of DOUBTFUL truth’ to defend the author’s side. A rumor CAN be true and often times is. It may just be me, but I feel a little skeptical that everyone interviewed shares the same stance on the laxative fiasco – they are all pro-Sodexo. It would be interesting to get someone else’s viewpoint and furthermore it irks me that both sides of the coin were not analyzed.

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