Michigan State University to open allergen-free dining hall

Posted at 10:55 AM, Jul 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-04 10:55:20-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Students with food allergies will soon have a new place to dine on Michigan State University’s campus.

The school is opening its first allergen-free dining hall, Thrive, on Monday, the Lansing State Journal reported.

Gina Keilen, the university’s dietitian for culinary services, said about one in eight MSU students has some sort of food allergy.

“We want to make people feel welcome in the dining halls,” she said. “This just goes the extra step.”

Thrive will serve food that doesn’t contain any of the eight most common allergens: milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.

The dining hall will have three stations offering a variety of foods, from mashed potatoes and roast turkey, to grain bowls and nachos. It’ll even serve chicken tenders made with gluten-free panko bread crumbs.

The kitchen will also regularly test ingredients and menu items for allergens, according to Keilen. Compared to other dining halls on campus, Thrive will have strict rules about who works in the kitchen, requiring delivery or maintenance workers to exercise caution when entering the area.

Allergen-free facilities are becoming more popular on college campuses, said Betsy Craig, founder and CEO of Kitchens with Confidence. The kitchen auditing company partnered with Michigan State University on the project.

Craig expects to see more schools embrace allergen-free and gluten-free food offerings in the future. She said the dining halls aren’t limited to only students with food allergies.

“Twenty-one-year-olds love chicken nuggets and chicken strips,” she said. “If they’re good, they’re going to eat it, it doesn’t matter if they’re gluten free or not.”