When fifth-semester marketing major Matthew Davidson was invited to accompany his friends at North Dining Hall Monday night during dinner hours, he got a mouthful of something he wasn’t expecting.
Davidson, an off-campus student without a meal plan, had a friend swipe him into the dining unit. He said he decided to have chicken tenders, but the serving station was out of them. He waited while they refilled, and instantly noticed a difference in the new batch.
“The nice dining hall worker said she’d bring some more out, and a minute later she did,” Davidson said. “Except these weren’t the same chicken tenders, they seemed to be fried chicken cutlets. I got two pieces.”
Davidson said he ate the first piece of chicken without seeing any problems with it, although he admits he wasn’t really paying much attention. However, the second piece wasn’t just undercooked – it was completely raw.
“I saw that part of the piece I cut off was raw. No big deal right? The rest is probably cooked,” Davidson said. “I proceeded to dissect the chicken and it was almost completely raw; just the outside fried part was cooked.”
The incident happened shortly before the 7:15 p.m. close at North Dining Hall, whereupon Davidson posted the photo of the undercooked poultry to UConn’s Buy or Sell Facebook page, alerting thousands of fellow students about the health hazard.
“At the moment I (saw the chicken was raw), I took a picture and uploaded it to Buy or Sell,” Davidson said. “I didn’t want to bring it up to a manager because they seemed busy closing North.”
In just 19 hours, the post generated almost 640 likes and more than 50 comments, with some students sharing similar experiences in the dining halls.
While Dining Services declined to comment about the specific incident while it is being investigated, assistant director Michael White said he wanted to assure students that the department would take necessary steps and precautions to prevent similar occurrences in the future.
“In general I want students to know they can bring these things to our attention. From my perspective this is not acceptable,” White said. “I have reached out to the student (and) I have expressed my apology and commitment to fixing this issue. Safety has to come before anything else.”
However, this was not enough to rectify the situation, as the damage had already been done. Davidson had seen enough.
“This was one of the reasons I decided not to live on campus,” Davidson said. “The food being served in the dining hall just isn’t quality enough for something I want to be eating every day.”