Did Outtahere Sell Expired Food?

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We at the Foghorn staff recently became obsessed with a food craze available at the new Outtahere Café at USF. This culinary sensation is known as the NaanWich, a creation by a Bay Area company called Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods. The NaanWiches contain Indian-inspired fillings such as Spinach and Tofu, Channa Masala, or our personal favorite, Chicken Tikka, wrapped in delicious naan bread. The NaanWiches were one of the many reasons we were fond of the new Outtahere Café, and due to the proximity of Outtahere to our office and the much-appreciated late hours, we would often go for 1 a.m. NaanWich runs during nights working on the paper.

On Monday Oct. 19, the Foghorn was very excited to see that NaanWiches were being sold for $1. The incredibly low price caused several Foghorn staff members to purchase multiple NaanWiches, and we saw other USF students doing the same. The sign in the refrigerated section of Outtahere advertised the discount as a “BAIL OUT SPECIAL,” and we thought this was simply a generous gift. Holly Winslow, General Manager for Bon Appetit, had told the Foghorn that she would occasionally be offering “bailouts” for students running low on Flexi, an idea that we supported.

However, a student employee of Outtahere verified that this was not the case: the NaanWiches were being sold on clearance because the sell-by date had passed. The employee, who wishes to remain anonymous to protect his/her job, told the Foghorn that the sell-by date on the NaanWiches was unknown. The worker said that no one instructed him/her to warn customers that they were purchasing potentially expired food; however, the worker gladly informed them if they asked.

The USDA’s web site says, “The Sell-By date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.”

However, there was no signage indicating the food was past its sell-by date, and there were no stickers or markings on the product saying what the sell-by date was.

A representative from Sukhi Foods informed the Foghorn that NaanWiches are always shipped with sell-by dates on the wrappers. Many of us remember seeing such stickers on the products prior to the “bailout.” It would seem that Outtahere Café removed the stickers to intentionally sell past-date food to students.

The Foghorn was very uneasy that not only had many of us eaten expired food, but we had done so without any knowledge. Some people might take the risk of eating food that was past its sell-by date because of the reduced price. However, many people would not choose to take that risk.

USF students rely on the various food service outlets throughout campus, including Outtahere, Crossroads, Club Ed Café, Outtakes, and the Market Café, all of which are run by the Bon Appetit Management Company. Because so many of us enjoy so many of our meals at these eateries, this incident calls into question the safety of all food eaten at USF. If Outtahere is willing to serve past-date sandwiches, how do we know if the cheese on our pizza is fresh, or the chicken in our salad is good?

Food poisoning is a very serious condition. Anyone who has ever experienced food poisoning from expired food knows that it can cause days of unpleasant illness. Not only can food poisoning be unpleasant, but WebMD reports that it leads to 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,200 deaths each year.

The Foghorn hopes that no one contracts any kind of food poisoning from eating expired NaanWiches. We hope the NaanWiches were not actually expired enough to cause illness. In any case, the Foghorn demands that Bon Appetit not take risks with our health and safety. From now on, when that sell-by date passes, get it Outtahere!

10 COMMENTS

  1. It’s pretty sad knowing that this may be the case at a large amount of Bon Appetite locations from airports to school cafeterias, and at the end of it all they still manage to mark up the prices of food to ridiculous levels.

  2. Unrelated, I believe, but also of note was the food poisoning catastrophe at this summer’s FastTrack (they changed the name but it escapes me) when what seemed like nearly half of the new students attending the orientation, their parents and USF staff became ill after eating a Bon Appetit catered “make your own fajitas” dinner. Some where hospitalized, many missed the scavenger hunt the next day, and others fell victim to the fajitas during the hunt, requiring USF employees to drive around the city collecting sick students and delivering them to the hospital.

    Holly Winslow and Margaret Higgins both spent some time in front of the microphone expressing their sincere regret for the mishap.

    In my experience Holly and Bon Appetit have done a pretty good job and sometimes accidents happen, however, I believe the issue raised by this Op Ed requires an explanation. The article never says whether the food was actually expired or not, was it? And I will also point out that day old bread is quite popular…

  3. Hunter, the NaanWiches were technically expired. That is to say, the sell-by date had passed, which is why they were on clearance. However, were they expired enough to cause illness? Probably not. Many people ate them and I have not heard of masses of sick students being rushed to the ER due to old NaanWich consumption. Nevertheless, if that date says it’s no good, then it’s best not to take chances.

    Also, interesting about the summer food poisoning incident. If I was visiting my prospective college and ended up having to go to the hospital, I’d probably take it as a bad sign and withdraw!

    Overall I have never had a problem with Bon Appetit’s quality or service. In fact, I am usually very happy with them, probably moreso than the average student. Still, incidents like this cannot be tolerated.

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