Beginning Oct. 1, organizations selling food on campus will need at least one member with special training on site while food is present.
The requirement is part of a new University Policy and Procedure Statement, the official set of rules and policies governing Texas State. If a student organization plans to give away or sell food in The Quad or at a program or event, at least one member must have attended a food safety training session. The Office of Campus Activities and the Office of Environmental Health, Safety, and Risk Management are holding the sessions to prevent food poisoning outbreaks, said Heather Campbell, student development specialist.
Campbell said an outbreak is defined as two or more students becoming ill from food poisoning. No students will be allowed to distribute food if an outbreak is caused on campus. She said the school is being “proactive” by preventing outbreaks before they happen.
Campbell said 100 people have received the training over the last six weeks.
“There are a variety of universities in Texas that don’t allow any food on campus and that’s because of the hazard of people getting sick,” Campbell said. “We wanted to be proactive so no one would get sick. We want to provide a safe environment for our students.”
Campbell said she and Elsie Romano, environmental health and safety specialist, have been preparing the food handling classes for almost two years. In addition to student organization members, people in charge of open events and fundraisers are required to take the training, Romano said. Dining hall employees are recommended to take a session to raise their awareness as well.
“The purpose is to raise awareness and to prevent sicknesses,” Romano said. “People doing fundraisers are included in that as well. We are recommending employees go to the training session. We’re trying to take small steps.”
Campbell said the purpose is not to shut down organizations or become the “food police,” but to make sure people know how to handle the food preparation correctly. She said students have been responsive to the food handling training.
“We’re getting a very receptive reaction,” Campbell said. “People stay after class and ask questions. They are thinking more about what they didn’t think was important before.”
Romano said the training sessions are similar to an actual class. It includes a lecture with some hands-on demonstrations, such as how to properly wash hands. The training includes information about the people affected by food poisoning, and covers cross-contamination, storage, cooking and equipment.
Romano and Campbell said they are not aware of any food poisoning incidents that have occurred at Texas State. However, psychology junior Blake Mc Clintic said he has seen enough from student organizations and how they handle food to know improper procedures can make students sick.
Mc Clintic is in charge of the football club’s food booth. He once heard students complaining they could taste lighter fluid on their hot dogs from another food stand.
“Nobody’s washing their hands,” Mc Clintic said. “Most people that are out here aren’t even aware of how to cook food. I’ve complained about it.”
Mc Clintic said he might be the reason for the new UPPS requirement because he has voiced his thoughts to others. Mc Clintic said he would not have been surprised if students have gotten sick from an organization’s food.
“It’s good for the organization because it’s awareness for other people, but also gives us an understanding of the responsibilities,” Mc Clintic said. “I serve good food, and the only complaint I’ve had is my attitude.”
There will be two more training sessions this fall. After this semester, Campbell said the sessions will occur every three weeks. The sessions are free and those who take one receive a certificate allowing them to handle food for the next two years. The certificate is valid anywhere in Texas.