Zoha Ahmed | Assessing the maintenance of hygiene across LUMS’ eateries |
It had been a tiring and gruesome day that slowly transitioned into night as Mahnoor Akhtar’23 and her friends considered food options for dinner. Having spent enough money in the morning, they quietly and unanimously settled on PDC. As Akhtar dug into the only thing on the menu that seemed appetizing that night – vegetable pulao – she was met with an unflattering sight. A hair, the size of a thumbnail, slowly slithered its way onto her next forkful. She and her friends stared in disgust as they examined the rest of their plates for any other unwanted items. With this, the four hostilities begged to question – what is the extent of hygiene at the food options available at LUMS?
The food options at LUMS, although seemingly vast, are rather limited. You have one dining hall – PDC. One desi restaurant — Zaakir Tikka. Five non-desi restaurants/cafes — Chop Chop, Subway, Flavours, Juice Zone and Jammin Java and for a quick bite, you can always grab something from the Khoka or the superstore. With only seven total food options, maintaining hygiene levels shouldn’t be something a student should have to worry about. Unfortunately, that is not the case. With constant verbal complaints from students to posts scattered on LDF, the food cleanliness conditions are rather questionable.
Having examined LDF, students have found flies, lizards, ants and other questionable items in their Chop Chop orders. Zobia Akhtar’ 20 posted a picture of her Chop Chop order on LDF where she found an ant gnawing her egg fried rice. Upon inspection, the refrigeration at Chop Chop seems sketchy with water constantly leaking from the fridges indicating that the cooling might not be efficient. The cooking is done in an open kitchen where vegetables are mostly left in containers without lids.
PDC, although on the outside seems to maintain a good image by the vast majority of hairnets, beard nets and gloves their workers seem to adorning, does not always meet the expected standards. Students constantly complain about hair and other unwanted items being found in their food.
Earlier this month, a student named Swaiba Saeed posted on LDF regarding PDC coffee, “I felt something was up with it and ended up vomiting twice right after”.
Another student, Kumar Dev also posted on LDF regarding a chicken found in his daal: “Am I not allowed to be a vegetarian in PDC? A chicken piece pops up in daal to say hello to my Hindu beliefs. I am not a very religious person but this carelessness should be avoided by the PDC staff. Matlab kuch bhi khilaya ga sakta hai kia?”
Additionally, Zaakir Tikka is an eatery that is highly popular. They have maintained a good reputation and seem lighter on complaints. Jammin Java may be the only restaurant that proved to be satisfactory upon inspection. With little to no complaints and a visually pleasing and clean kitchen, this relatively expensive option might be the only real safe place to eat at LUMS.
“We aim to handle all food related issues promptly. The student council is very vigilant and reacts quickly to any complaints posted on LDF. We’re a large team and someone always happens to spot posts regarding food issues and forwards them to the general administration. Even if, somehow, we end up missing these posts – our friends are quick to tag us,” laughed Huzaifa Rauf, a PhD student and co-chair PDC student council. He detailed how Colonel Amer and other members of the administration follow up on these complaints immediately after they are reported, typically the next day. Such complains result in meetings with the concerned staff of the restaurant where they are asked about why this incident occurred and a kitchen inspections is also performed. Apart from such emergency meetings, Colonel Amer, other members of the administration and a few members of the Student Council hold 3-4 inspections every semester. These inspections cover all restaurants whereby the kitchen conditions, staff hygiene and health certificates are all inspected. A criteria sheet is filled upon which each restaurant is awarded a score. Recommendations are also provided incase of any hygiene issues.
It’s important to question the food we consume on a daily on the LUMS campus. With a vast majority of the LUMS’s student body residing on campus and only a few eateries, it’s rather easy for any one to slip up with regards to hygiene because of the lack of choice students face. It’s imperative to launch an inquiry and take action now, and consequently, bring up the food standards at what is one of the best universities in the country.
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