Students are concerned over sanitation and hygiene in Open Kitchen after a rat was spotted at a serving station.
On the night of January 18, a rat appeared at the dining hall’s grill station. In a video of the incident, a cook picked up the rat with a pair of tongs before the rat wiggled out onto the floor.
“I felt disgusted,” said Isabel Curiston, a first-year arts student who filmed the event on her phone.
In a statement emailed to The Ubyssey, Colin Moore, director of Food Services at UBC, said that the grill station was “closed immediately following the incident” and that “a thorough cleaning and sanitation occurred.”
Matthias Shorter, first-year applied science student recalls events differently. “They cleaned the area where the rat was and then kept serving food for the rest of the evening,” he said.
Shorter and other students who saw the incident expressed concern about hygiene and sanitation issues in the Open Kitchen.
“I don’t have a big problem with rats,” said Shorter. “But when they’re near my food that’s an issue because they have so many diseases.” Curiston added that UBC needs to “update [it’s] cleaning protocol.”
Moore said that Food Services is working with its pest control partner.
“We have also proactively contacted Vancouver Coastal Health, and will work closely with them as needed. All employees have been informed and reminded about proper sanitation measures as necessary,” he added.
Open Kitchen has received critical infractions during seven of its 14 Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) health inspections since October 2016. At the most recent inspection in October of last year, the dining hall received an infraction for food not being handled in a sanitary manner.
Following the incident, Curiston and Shorter said they aren’t comfortable going to Open Kitchen any time soon.
“I don’t feel comfortable eating there … until I know they’ve fixed the problem properly,” said Shorter.
The rat incident has also cast doubt on the sanitation of other student dining halls at UBC. Open Kitchen is commonly regarded as the newest and best student residence dining hall. “If this is happening in the supposedly cleanest one, then who knows what’s happening in the other two,” said Shorter.