By TCR Staff
Last edited Wednesday, February 8th at 10:00 a.m. Article will be updated with the most current information.
Last week, on the morning of February 2nd, rumors of food poisoning swarmed Franklin & Marshall College, as more and more students reported various symptoms of gastrointestinal illness. House Advisors attempted to help their sick residents (with electrolytes and Saltine crackers), while Michael Baker, Vice President of Auxiliary Service, consulted with Dining Services, the Student Wellness Center, the President’s Office, and Communications to discuss the possible cause.
As of February 8th, Dr. Amy Meyers estimates that around 80 students have been affected by the recent outbreak of gastrointestinal illness.
Beginning the morning of the 2nd, students made three separate reports to Campus Public Safety for nausea-related concerns and one injury-related concern that warranted medical assistance. This includes only students who called the Public Safety Office and does not account for anyone who sought medical assistance independent of the college or those who self-treated their condition from home.
Following the rapid spread of food poisoning talk, the Office of Student Affairs sent out an email detailing the nature of the situation, explaining that Mein Bowl, Steinman College Center’s Asian cuisine food vendor, was potentially the culprit for the sudden illnesses. Mein Bowl’s temporary closure followed reports from students experiencing the mystery illness, who began to speculate that bad rice was the culprit after they consumed sushi and sides of the grain. The College Reporter, nor the college, can confirm exactly what caused rampant gastrointestinal issues across campus.
In the initial email, the Office of Student Affairs asserted that some instances of illness seemed unrelated to campus food, and instead may have been caused by a circulating gastrointestinal virus, or as some may call it, a stomach bug. The college and SWC strongly recommend following health and safety procedures, like frequent hand-washing, drinking water, and avoiding sharing cups and utensils. SWC also implemented additional open hours on Saturday, February 4th, for any students experiencing acute gastrointestinal distress.
“We are currently taking several responsive steps,” explained the email. “Among others, Dining and Facilities Services are implementing enhanced cleaning protocols to disinfect dining areas and adjacent public spaces. Additionally, Dr. Amy Myers at the Student Wellness Center is contacting the Health Department.”
As of midday Saturday, February 4th, Mein Bowl has reopened, with new safety protocols. The sushi is no longer being kept in its typical grab-and-go refrigerator, and now the vendor is instead providing made-to-order sushi at students’ request.
Neither the college nor Sodexo, the food service and facilities management company with which F&M Dining is partnered, has released a statement documenting the cause of last week’s illnesses. As people continue to speculate, the executive board of Diplomatic Congress, F&M’s student governing body, asks that students refrain from spreading potentially false information before further evidence is released.