By Farzana Bhatty
Maryam Mohammed is one Muslim student who will never eat at a Ryerson Pita Pit again.
Mohammed, a third-year Business Management student, was craving a vegetarian wrap at the Hub cafeteria, but was disgusted when she saw how they were prepared.
Just moments after a food worker prepared a meat wrap, she used the same gloves to make Mohammed’s veggie wrap. “It’s contaminating my food,” Mohammed said. “I didn’t even bother to ask for anything from the Pita Pit.”
Many students who have dietary restrictions complain that Ryerson’s restaurants mix foods, without cleaning their areas or utensils. Mohamed isn’t the only one who left the Pita Pit hungry.
Irfan Usmani, a third year engineering student, went there for a chicken sandwich. Usmani does not eat pork because he is Muslim. The cafeteria worker had just made a pork sandwich on the oven, so Usmani asked him to clean the surface before cooking chicken on pork juices.
The employee wasn’t up for it. According to Usmani, he said, “My friend, if you don’t eat pork then forget it. I can’t clean it.” Akiva Goldberg, president of Ryerson’s Jewish student group, Hillel, said there is no food available for those students who keep kosher, except for a piece of fruit at the Hub.
“I am not too concerned about getting non-kosher food at school since I can’t even eat anything that Food Services provides.” One cafeteria employee said that when customers ask for utensils to be cleaned or gloves changed, workers do it right away.
According to Richard Zmak, a Food Services manager, the university does not have its own cleaning requirements for the franchises. Zmak said some practices are requirements by the Board of Health, while others are franchise standards, which vary.
Ryerson has a cross-contamination policy, but John Corallo, director of ancillary services, said he is “not sure how well it is practiced.” Corallo said there is a hygiene policy that says when employees leave their sites they should change gloves.
Aramark, Ryerson’s food services contractor, enforces all policies, Corallo said.
“We rely on Aramark because they are the food services expert.”