Dining Services taking safety measures after worms are found in fish at McMahon

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Though McMahon dining unit was closed on September 5th (the day after the incident), Pierce said that that the closing was due to a grease drainage issue, and was not related to the September fourth worm issue. (File/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Dining Services is taking precautionary measures in its seafood policy after a student found parasitic worms in the lemon dill cod fish at the McMahon dining unit, said Dining Services director Dennis Pierce.

The incident, which took place on September 4th, surfaced through a Snapchat video of the worms on a UConn Subreddit page on Tuesday.

Carrie Costa, a third-semester German & mechanical engineering double major, talked about long it took her to realize the substances in the fish broth were actually worms.

“I’m eating and I notice this little red spot in the fish, so I go pick at it, thinking it’s some sort of blood vessel, but then again I don’t know the anatomy of a fish,” Costa said.

Costa said that she didn’t think much of the encounter until a few minutes after removing the first worm.

“I continue to eat the fish and I notice another one, they’re worms,” Costa said. “My friend who also ate the fish didn’t notice anything but she became nauseous because of the thought that she might’ve consumed a worm.”

The response to the worms by the staff was swift, Costa said.

“The student worker and the chef behind the station removed the fish from the line and if anyone was seen with the dish then the person was kindly asked to give it back,” Costa said.

Costa said that the manager reassured her that the issue would be resolved.

“The manager handled it all very well, asking me if I wanted to file a report, which I did,” Costa said. “I went to his office and he took my name and email down.”

Costa was also told that the issue would be sent up the chain of command.

“I have not heard back from them (or anyone further up the line at corporate), however.” Costa said.

Pierce said Dining Services has been working closely with the the Boston-based fishing company Red’s Best, which supplies fish to the university, to resolve the issue. However, he stressed that, with fresh fish, the issue with the worms is not uncommon.

“This time of year, the waters warm up. And so there is this susceptibility for cod to have worms,” Pierce said. “And it’s not like they didn’t clean it right or otherwise, it’s in the meat itself.”

Pierce also added that Red’s Best may have made an error that, in mass production, is beyond their control.

“Red’s Best uses a blue light to examine if there are any worms in there, but they are doing that to thousands and thousands of pounds,” Pierce said.

Pierce said Rob Landolphi, Culinary Operations Manager, spoke with Red’s Best after the evidence and encouraged the company to, for the time being, send other fish that isn’t as problematic, such as flounder.

Pierce said that he is confident that the issue has been handled correctly, but is encouraging students to always take action in the way that Costa did.

“To the best of knowledge, we haven’t had an incident since,” Pierce said. “But nine times out of ten, the student doesn’t say anything, but the first thing they do is take a picture of it.”

Though McMahon dining unit was closed on September 5th (the day after the incident), Pierce said that that the closing was due to a grease drainage issue, and was not related to the September fourth worm issue.

Pierce said he is always receptive to issues students have in the dining halls and will always work to fix said problems.

“If there is an issue, bring it to our attention immediately so we can remedy and rectify it,” Pierce said.


Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at taylor.harton@uconn.edu.

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