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Q&A: Dining Services discusses food labels

Photo by Alexander Knobloch

Rollins holds several awards for its inclusive dining, including accolades from PETA for its vegan and allergy-conscious options. While Dining Services detailed plans for improving options for students with allergies after our interview last year, students have reported inconsistencies with labels and cross-contamination of allergens in food across campus. 

In the following Q&A, Carolina Ossa, marketing manager of Dining Services, explained the process for label-creation and the importance of accurate labels in the Marketplace for students with dietary restrictions.

Q: What is the process of creating labels in the Marketplace?

Ossa: Labels are created based on the daily menu. Every ingredient used for every meal prepared is detailed in the software. This allows us to track and report on any allergens that may be included on each of the menus. Each day, our staff works to double-check each label to ensure that no allergens are missing on the printed labels.  

Labels are initially created with a speciality software, then they get exported to Word for easier formatting and printing.

Q: What accommodations and resources exist for people with different dietary restrictions?

Ossa: Our team works diligently to fulfill the dietary requirements of all of our students. In most cases, we can meet the special dietary requirements. Any student with special dietary needs should make an appointment with our Head Chef Mark Kaba. Mark will meet individually with each student and discuss their needs and how the college will work to fulfill them. 

In some cases, we are unable to fulfill the needs of the individual student and the student is referred to the ADA department in Residential Life, and they work to create an individual accommodation.

Q: Have any inconsistencies in labels been brought up to you before by students or otherwise?

Ossa: Yes, there have been a few instances when students have identified or helped identify discrepancies in labels. Generally, this happens when an individual preparing the item deviates from the recipe. We have had instances of this and the staff responsible for deviating was reprimanded. Our staff are all trained on the importance of getting the labels correct every time and work very hard to do so. 

Q: What are some actions that have been taken to tackle this issue?

Ossa: Labels are audited daily before each service to ensure accuracy. Also, staff has been trained to know what’s in products so they can also answer questions on the spot about a particular food item. Additionally, all associates take mandatory training with a professional dietitian every semester, where all the information regarding allergies and the risks associated with them are covered. 

Q: If students are still facing these issues, what can they do to better their dining experiences?

Ossa: Feedback is very important to us. We appreciate it when students or other customers let us know of possible discrepancies in labelling; we follow through with employees when mistakes are made to make sure it does not happen again. We recently added another layer of label inspection before printing to help avoid any potential risks to all our guests. In addition to the person making the signs, there is a second one checking every label to make sure all ingredients are included.

For students wanting information regarding calorie content or nutrition information in their meals, barcodes located on the wooden menu boards near each food station can be scanned directly into the MyFitnessPal app.The Dining Services comment box is open for any comments, recommendations, or suggestions, and community members can also email Dining Services directly.

One Comment

  1. […] incident reported to dining services this semester. This issue, however, occurred as recently as fall 2021 when Carolina Ossa, marketing manager of Dining Services, stated that “there have been a few instances when students […]

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