By Caitlin Soard
Sodexo employees go through an average of 20 to 25 boxes of gloves per week.
Food services director Les Petroff said that is a lot of gloves — and that’s how it should be.
“Everybody should wear gloves if they touch food, and I know for a fact that they do because we literally go through 20, 25 boxes of gloves a week,” Petroff said. “We spend a lot of money on gloves.”
Employees use such a large amount of gloves to prevent cross-contamination. Petroff said changing gloves regularly is the first line of defense in preventing the mixture of prepared and raw foods.
If an employee leaves his station, Petroff said, they are required to change gloves — particularly if he is going from a food preparation station to doing something like taking out the trash.
Petroff said Sodexo also makes sure to prevent foods with possible allergens, such as gluten, from touching the same gloves or utensils as allergen-free foods.
“If people are gluten-free, we have to have separate chicken breasts and separate items for them sometimes, because if you cook a plain chicken breast on a grill that’s just had a burger, then that’s not really gluten-free,” Petroff said.
However, junior Emily Meese says that’s not always the case.
“I have a friend who has a gluten allergy and sometimes if they don’t switch their gloves out, she gets really sick,” Meese said. “And it’s not really fair because she tries so hard to avoid gluten.”
Vegan and vegetarian dishes are also supposed to be prepared in different areas.
Sodexo Supervisor Melissa Harvey said there’s no federal or state mandate on what regulations should be in place and that each county is different.
Sodexo’s policies are stricter than what is required by Johnson County, Petroff said.
“We always try to err on the side of safety, so our own policies are tougher than other policies,” Petroff said.
Sodexo and the National Sanitation Foundation perform annual audits to make sure these standards are met. Additionally, every manager is Serve Safe certified, and staff members are trained annually in food safety.
According to the most recent audit, Sodexo did not violate any company or government standards.