On Monday in Thorne Dining Hall, a vigilant student approached a Dining Services employee after noticing small metallic flecks in the brownies he had been eating. The discovery of the flakes, which turned out to be small pieces of aluminum from the brownie pan, led to a rapid investigation by the Dining Services staff, who promptly removed the remaining brownies from the dessert display before dispatching two employees into the dining hall to remove brownies from students’ plates.
“Of course we investigated immediately, and as a precautionary measure, we pulled all the brownies,” said Ken Cardone, the Associate Director and Executive Chef of Dining Services.
The reason for the incident was two-fold, according to Cardone.
“It was a couple of things: It was using a little too much pressure [when cutting the brownies]—because [they’re in] an aluminum sheet pan—and using a serrated knife.”
After investigating the incident, Dining Services has acknowledged that they must change their brownie-serving procedure to prevent similar problems from happening.
“If you have brownies in a pan, you should not use a serrated knife, and you should use a light pressure,” said Cardone.
Aluminum is a non-toxic material used to make mainly countertops, pots and serving dishes—all of which leech small amounts into food. Still, the Dining Services’ quick response caused some alarm.
Nick Benson ’17 and Konstantine Mushegian ’17 were both at Thorne on Monday and ate several brownies.
“I did find some tiny pieces—that looked like metal shards—on the outside of my brownie, but I just sort of picked them off and was like ‘Nah, there’s no way there are metal shavings on my brownie,’” said Benson.
After a few minutes, a Dining employee approached them and took their remaining brownies.
“The guy—I don’t know who, the head of Dining or something—started ghosting around the hall, and just picking brownies and people’s plates up, saying ‘Sorry, I need to take these, the brownies have been replaced with cookies.’ We thought it was a pepper flip,” Benson said.
Cardone said that he does not believe the incident caused any health issues, and that he was happy a student spoke up about the flecks. Despite Dining Services’ nationally-recognized quality, students should still be vigilant, he added.
“Luckily, someone brought the product up,” said Cardone. “It’s important to get that information quickly. We were able to pull everything out of service within minutes.”
Although somewhat startled by the accident, Mushegian and Benson said they did not think it reflected poorly on Dining Services as a whole.
“Shit happens,” said Mushegian.