Cal Dining employee claims substance in Crossroads’ salad bar vents was not mold

Karen Chow/File

A Facebook post on the page “Overheard at UC Berkeley” showed pictures of the salad bar vents at the Crossroads dining hall Sept. 19, with a caption alleging mold was growing in the vents — but a Cal Dining employee stated that it was not mold.

After learning of the post, Cal Dining employees cleaned the vents and covered them with saran wrap for extra precaution. Luz Pedroza, a Crossroads food service worker, said the substance in the vents was not mold.

“I was grabbing a salad, when I looked down and saw something black in the vents. I thought it was salad that had fallen in, but upon closer inspection, I realized it was mold growing,” said campus freshman Addison Chan, who made the Facebook post, in an email.

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Pedroza said staff inspected the area after they were made aware of the Facebook post, which has more than 500 reactions and more than 200 comments as of press time.

“It was not mold. We cleaned and sanitized everything,” Pedroza said. “Then, someone came up with the idea, for the security and because many people eat here, that we should cover it up.”

Campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff said in an email that if dining hall visitors have any concerns, they should immediately inform the Cal Dining staff members, adding that given the Facebook posting, staff would investigate the area and take cleaning action if necessary.

“Cal Dining strives to provide a clean and healthy work environment. Routine three-times-per-year health inspections are done by UC Berkeley’s Environment, Health & Safety, Cal Dining’s official health inspector (in addition to inspections in response to complaints),” Ratliff said in an email.

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Several students, who frequently dine at Crossroads, said the situation was upsetting. Campus freshman Talin Boghoz said it made her “a little sad” because she eats salad once or twice a day, and she hopes the dining hall communicates with students about the issue.

“I feel like that’s unfair to the students because we pay money for Cal Dining,” said campus freshman Isabelle Zhou. “I think they should be telling the students and hold themselves accountable.”

After hearing about the school’s efforts to clean the vents, Chan said in an email that he appreciated the efforts to make Crossroads a “nicer place.”

“Nevertheless, it was definitely shocking to see the mold growing there, as it hints at possible negligence on the school’s part,” Chan said in an email.

Contact Thao Nguyen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.