Campus, News


Boston University student Devon Maloney sat down to eat a yogurt parfait from the George Sherman Union last week, not expecting any surprises from her new treat.
After her first bite, she found herself feeling nauseous. Upon further investigation, she noticed almonds mixed in the granola, though nothing on the label indicated that they should be there.
‘I know people who are deathly allergic to nuts, and if they had eaten it would not be alive,’ Maloney, a College of Communication sophomore, said. ‘Afterwards, I took medicine, so I was physically fine, but I was depressed. To someone with a food allergy, it’s a big deal.’
Avoiding allergic reactions can be difficult for BU students who suffer from food allergies ranging from bothersome to lethal, with the mix of dining halls, shared snacks and off-campus restaurants all posing threats.
Maloney said she always checks food labels, a habit she learned from having a lifelong nut allergy.
‘I looked at the label, and there was no warning of nuts whatsoever,’ Maloney said. ‘I said I wanted a refund. That’s all I got. They didn’t do anything to change it, even though they said they would.’
Until last week’s incident, Maloney had been quite confident in BU Dining Services’ ability to label possible allergens, she said.
‘The things I usually had been very cautious about I didn’t have to be,’ Maloney said. ‘With the peanut butter in the dining halls, there was a bit of criss-cross contamination. I asked them to fix it, and they totally did.’
College of Arts and Sciences junior Greg Hum said with peanut, shellfish and soy allergies, he thinks BU does a good job of keeping on-campus dining safe affected by students with allergies.
‘My allergies are pretty common, but they’re pretty easy to avoid most of the time,’ Hum said. ‘I always ask to double check, but it helps that the dining halls don’t cook with peanut oil.’
Hum said he found BU Dining Services options for allergic students satisfactory, though there is room for improvement, like a more detailed listing of ingredients.
CAS sophomore David Friedlander, who has a wheat allergy, said he had an allergic reaction in a dining hall before, but it happened because he made a careless mistake.
‘If I really cared enough, it would take work, but it’s not impossible,’ Friedlander said. ‘I’d have to avoid eating things I enjoy, like French fries, to really eliminate the risk.’
Friedlander said Dining Services could improve its on-campus dining facilities for people with gluten intolerances to an extent.
‘I wouldn’t ask them to carry gluten-free soy sauce or anything, but sometimes the only cereal I can eat is Rice Chex, and it gets a little bland,’ Friedlander said. ‘Just carrying a bit of a variety of normal foods that don’t have wheat would be nice. That said, there’s always something I can eat.’
The BU Nutrition and Fitness Center helps students, including those with food allergies, to eat a balanced diet on campus through free counseling sessions with one of three registered dietitians, Director Stacey Zawacki said.
‘Students should read food labels if they are available and should not eat foods if they are unsure about the ingredients,’ Zawacki said. She also encouraged students to check with Dining Services managers about ingredients.
Dining Services had not responded to interview requests as of press time.

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