Students deserve dependably safe food on campus

Credit: Louise Zhou/ Credit: Louise Zhou/

The popular Tartan Express Food Truck that is usually situated in Legacy Plaza outside of the Cohon University Center (CC) was shut down for a health code violation last week, prompting the Tartan to talk to Pascal Petter, the Director of Dining Services.

Director of Marketing for Student Affairs Operations Mandi Semple commented in the “To Dining With Love” Facebook group, saying “The Allegheny County Health Department has temporarily suspended the permit to operate the Tartan Express, due to a water pressure issue on the truck. Once the water pressure is fixed, the truck will be re-inspected and back in operation in the very near future. Food service safety is a top priority at Carnegie Mellon. We are working to resolve the issues immediately and apologize for this inconvenience to the community.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the food truck did not have running water, prompting the shutdown. “No one in the vehicle is able to wash hands when beginning new tasks, after handling money or touching the face or hair,” a health inspector wrote.

The problems, however, went beyond that. “Other violations included holding food at unsafe temperatures and inadequate sanitization,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote. The full health inspection report can be viewed online, and includes violations such as employee personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitation, water supply, and cold holding temperature. Although the truck has since been re-inspected and has reopened, the closure of the food truck prompted many students to consider the cleanliness of the truck and, even further, of all of the dining facilities on campus.

Since Petter has taken over Dining Services at Carnegie Mellon, students and faculty have seen a marked improvement in the communication between the administration and students regarding on-campus dining, the “To Dining With Love” Facebook page being one notable example.

However, on the Facebook page, students frequently post concerns and questions regarding the safety of the food that they eat, ranging from hummus at Entropy+ that has remained on the shelf despite its long-past expiration date to chicken found in a serving of vegetarian soup. While the staff of Dining Services does a fast and efficient job of addressing these concerns, it leads to questions about the bigger picture of food health and safety at Carnegie Mellon. The university should be meeting the minimum standards of food health inspections while serving quality food, and students should not have to worry about the sanitation of the dining places they frequent.