On Sept. 12, a TV program accused several Seoul cafeterias with poor sanitation. Many Donggukians were shocked because "A" cafeteria, one of the exposed anonymous cafeterias in the program, was Sanglokwon. The program found a living moth in the ingredients of a side dish, amd frozen food was kept in the temperature of -9℃, higher than the hygienic standard -17℃. Moreover, some materials which need government permission were used without approval.
The Dongguk University Cooperation (DUC), which is managing student dining halls, said that the report's complaints were just mistakes. They also said that they supervise their sanitation thoroughly and they had already punished the director of the cafeterias. A lot of Donggukians, however, still distrust the DUC: "Our cafeterias have poor sanitation but I don't think it will be changed even after this incident."
How many Donggukians' take their meals at school cafeterias in a day? According to DUC statistics, about 3800 students are using Sanglokwon, 1700 Dongguk Hall, and 1100～1200 Donggukians are using the Grill, at the Academic Cultural Center, in a day. Taking into consideration that approximately twelve-thousand, Donggukians 83% of students eat in school cafeterias every day. In addition, the statistic does not include snack bars.
Thus, most students are taking at least one meal at a cafeteria. The Dongguk Post's survey found that 90% of students are eating one meal at school cafeterias. It seems that cafeterias are influencing Donggukians' health.
Then which cafeteria do Dongukians prefer? The Post's survey indicates that 52% of Donggukians' go to Sanglokwon. But it ranks third among four cafeterias in customer satisfaction. What is the reason of Sanglokwon's low reputation despite its popularity? What are the problems of cafeterias in Dongguk University (DU)?
Most students think that Sanglokwon's meals are tasteless. Also, the menu is limited. I am fed up with the same menus. Even though DUC raised the food price, I don't see any difference," said Kim Kang-il, a sophomore in the Dept. of Civil Engineering.
In the poll, students pointed out two serious problems with the foods: taste and hygiene rated a low 38% and 36% respectively. They had a negative attitude in the menu as well, and especially complained about the price, which seems to be related to the recent rise in food prices nationally. Although DU students are not satisfied with school cafeterias, they still use them. Does DUC realized Donggukians' dissatisfaction? What are their reactions?
Despite DUC's efforts, there are many systemic problems.
One fundamental problem is with the height of campus buildings. DU is inhibited by height restrictions due its Nam San location, which is why school buildings are built. Therefore, cafeterias have problems with exhaust and ventilation. Sanglokwon has more problems than any other school cafeteria due to its rounddesign. For example, its design attracts insects.
The second problem is facilities. Although cafeterias need substantial aid from the School Authority (SA), it is indifferent about expanding restaurant facilities. Accordingly, ingredients are stored is too far from kitchens. So eggs and instant noodles can be seen stored openly in corners near the kitchens. Only after the Korea Food & Drug Administration (KFDA) criticized the cafeterias was the food stored elsewhere. There are other inconveniences for the chefs to get ingredients. The DUC said that they'll do their utmost to solve the facilities matter.
Even if the facilities are improved, other systemic problems should be corrected. Management system of cafeterias is classified into two sections -- Direct Management (DM) and Commission Management (CM). Excepting the Grill, three cafeterias are under DUC's DM. And the Grill is under the CM, provided by companies such as Our Home, Hanhwa and Shinsegae. The two systems have both merits and demerits, but the CM is more specialistic and concrete than the DM.
For example, Our Home controls their dining halls under the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) system. The HACCP, an effective method to ensure food safety, examines and controls the spoilage of food. Most of the CM cafeterias are operated by the HACCP.
Even though the DM has sweeping inspections, it cannot be as hygienical as the commission's. The CM cafeterias motions cooking temperature to kill bacteria and requires three rubber gloves to prevent cross contamination. Compared to this system, it is impossible to find merits in direct management. The commission management cleans the extractor fan twelve times a year. On the other hand, direct management does it only two times in a year. When a branch restaurant is exposed for poor sanitation, headquarters will step in. Under these strict controls, the supervisor makes every effort to maintain hygiene standards.
Labor problems can't be ignored, either. Sanglokwon has sanitary training every month. Most of the part-time student workers, however, don't attend the training due to their lecture schedule. The education program is actually meaningless without 50% of workers altering. There are fifty-eight full-time and 21 part-time students working in Sanglokwon.
"Part-time workers only wash dishes; so they don't have to attend the class," an officer said. This may explain so many dirty plates. For we can easily hear students' complain about their dirty sauce-stained plates. Even though the part-time student working system helps students, it should be abolished if it causes poor hygiene.
Seoul National University which got a good grade from KFDA, does not hire students. And DUC, according to carry the new plans, is terminating working students gradually.
DUC is scheduled to introduce a monitoring system run by students, faculty and graduates students from September 11. They will spot and correct food-related problems. The monitors will mainly evaluate three criteria: sanitary, cleanliness and service.
DUC will elect directors in charge of each food corner. If a food-related problem happens at a certain meal corner, the cooperative censures its representative. By introducing such system, they expect to improve cafeteria sanitation.
They will make daily hygiene checks, and the number checkers was increased from one to three -- from only nutritionist to nutritionist, administrator and captain. We can expect it will be not only a formal document but also an essential element for upgrading cafeterias.
A few days ago, DUC finished replacing cafeteria chair-covers, and put a ventilator into the workers' shower stall. But the ventilators inside the cafeterias are insufficient, so they need to improve the facilities step by step.
Yonsei University Cooperative exposed a hygiene problem at there campus, and they are carrying out the same monitoring system as DUC's. When construction on leaking water was finished, they determined to increase the frequency of cleaning.
DU cafeterias strive to be as clean as Yonsei's. "I was always concerned about the cafeteria's hygiene, and wanted to improve it. But I was not careful enough. With this incident, I will try my best not to make such mistakes anymore," said You Jae-chun, the DUC chief.
Cafeterias in DU are devising a plan to raise the quality of food and improve the hygiene, training of workers. They are to promote not only improved sanitary conditions but also complaints about menus, taste, and so forth. To satisfy consumers' demands, we expect them to totally improve cafeterias.
Most Donggukians want the school cafeterias to be clean. "I often see people mopping the floor while I am eating in the cafeteria. The mop smelled disgusting. And during the summer, big electric fans blow a lot of dust," Choi Youn-hwa, a sophomore in the Dept. of Education, pointed out his concern of sanitary matters.
In addition, making healthy surroundings cannot be achieved only through the cooperatives' efforts. Kim Dae-jin, a senior in the Dept. of Electric Engineering, mentioned the importance of ettique. Good manners are required of the staff as well as the students. "Some students cut in to the queue at lunch time especially at the snack bar. And if you say "Thank you!" when taking your meal, the staff appreciates it."
DUC is putting all its energy into improving sanitary conditions. Donggukians should take interest in food-related problems and offer solutions. A healthy table leads to a healthy life.
1. How often do you use a school cafeteria in a day?
1) Not at all : 10%
2) once : 61%
3) twice : 22%
4) 3 times : 5%
5) More than 4 times : 2%
2. What's your favorite DU cafeteria?
1) Sanglokwon : 52%
2) Wonheung Hall : 13%
3) Dongguk Hall : 21%
4) The Grill : 13%
3. Are you satisfied with the cafeteria? (full marks : 5)
1) Sanglokwon : 2.93
2) Wonheung Hall : 3.01
3) Dongguk Hall : 2.90
4) The Grill : 3.10
4. What should be improved immediately?
1) Taste : 38%
2) Service : 4%
3) Sanitation : 36%
4) Price : 18%
5) Others : 4%
"Direct management cafeteria sanitation is subject to the KFDA. The KFDA used to inspect school cafeterias' hygiene, and expose their errors. But they report the faults to local district's governments. For this reason, punishment could be weakened due to such a dualistic system. It's not a true inspection for hygiene, but only a formal procedure. Other nations have direct hygiene administrations. Korea has many pressing questions to be solved. It is difficult to expect cleanliness without regime improvement," said Kim Yong-duk, a representative of Food Safety Administration.
Excluding the Grill, DU cafeterias are managed by DUC. The KFDA and competent authorities directly inspect cafeterias, but it is a rare occurrence. Compared with this, Commission Management cafeterias have been inspected by the head office two times every week.
The introduction fo HACCP to enhance safety, checking cooking temperatures, using three kinds rubber gloves to prevent cross contamination and using quality guaranteed ingredients has made am improvement. DUC has to accept these merits
Kim added, "Above all, having a hygienic mind is very important. And the administrators should study food service. Actually, lack of acknowledge about food leads to many problems. Studying about food leads to a make healthy table."
Park Nu-ri Kim Sung-ho Son Jin firstname.lastname@example.org
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