Myths about cafeteria food are common, but there are also persistent beliefs not just about the taste of college food, but also about its very nature, for example, the University of Rhode Island’s dining hall meat.

One of the first things you need to know is that unlike other universities who hire an outside company to purchase their meat, URI’s Dining Services has its own self operating dining department that participates in the state of Rhode Island’s purchasing system.  Michael J. McCullough, associate director of URI Dining Services, said that URI purchases its meat through a bidding system that allows them to buy meat products in bulk.  The bidding system allows the university to receive bids on large amounts of meat product (chicken, pork or beef), and if the company decides to take on the bid then it is soon delivered to the university

McCullough also shared that the university usually orderers their specified meat products usually from Tyson Food Inc., Koch Foods and Dutch Quality.  Along with these companies, McCullough also said that they have started buying pork from a new farm called Hatfield Farms)- which acts as a free range pork farm- and fish (and certified cod) from Atlantika Co.-which is part of the Marine Stewardship Council.   Since URI is a self-operating dining service, the food from these companies is delivered to warehouses and URI trucks bring the meat to the food establishments on campus, so we never see the names of the companies we buy from.  Which may answer the question why many students on campus may not know where URI’s meat is from.

Though the bidding system we have currently in place does not allow for the university to have a very personal relationship with these companies, McCullough maintains that all the meat purchased is thoroughly tested for quality and allergies before it is given to the kitchens to be served in an effort to maintain the highest quality of safety possible.

In 2008, Tyson Food Inc. agreed to remove it’s “raised without antibiotics” label on all of their future packaging and advertising. Chickens and cows on processing farms are injected with antibiotics to prevent diseases that may become infections in the crowded hen houses and fields. Though it seems that this would be a good idea, consistent consumption and exposure of antibiotics would cause antibiotic-resistance bacteria in the human body.

According to a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic resistance is a form of drug resistance whereby some (or, less commonly, all) sub-populations of a microorganism, usually a bacterial species, are able to survive after exposure to one or more antibiotics.  Even though injecting antibiotics into their meat, and because of this causing antibiotic-resistance in all those who consume this on a regular basis, this practice prevents the sick livestock from “generating infectious diseases, like swine flu.”

Though it was difficult to say exactly, McCullough shared that the school orders roughly $1.6 million annually of a variety of meats every year. He went on to say that there is a detailed process to determine how much meat to purchase yearly but said that the answer is based on past years. The most heavily purchased meets were chicken, beef, then pork, respectively, with fish being the least purchased meat product. McCullough assures that URI purchases the best meat possible and that it is U.S. Department of Agriculture approved.