When Lade Gbolade sat down to eat lunch at the South Campus Dining Hall on Monday, she noticed something out of place on her plate.
Upon closer inspection, she realized that a caterpillar had been cooked along with her broccoli.
“I eventually started to get really concerned, because I kind of felt sick,” Gbolade said. “It was kind of just traumatizing for me because I almost put it in my mouth.”
Gbolade, a sophomore cell biology and genetics major, posted pictures of her broccoli on Twitter. It’s since been retweeted more than 220 times, as of Wednesday night.
“I would just like to share with y’all another one of UMD’s shenanigans,” she wrote. “Today I found a caterpillar camouflaging in my broccoli. I am truly disgusted. @UMDdining do better. Please and thank you.”
In a reply to Gbolade on Twitter, Dining Services spokesperson Bart Hipple tweeted an apology.
“Chef assures me procedure is followed and will review with receiving, cooking and serving staff,” he wrote in the tweet, posted Tuesday. “I apologize that this happened to you and thank you for showing us.”
Hipple, who said he saw the tweet Tuesday morning, sent Gbolade an email reiterating the department’s regret and explaining how the broccoli is prepared.
“We work really, really hard to serve safe and clean and appropriate food,” Hipple said. “These incidents don’t happen often, especially given the number of meals and the amount of food we serve in any given day, and it’s sad and it’s disheartening when it does happen.”
Sophomore biology major Jason Albanese said he usually doesn’t eat broccoli at the dining hall. He chose to serve himself some from South Campus Dining Hall on Wednesday before he heard about the caterpillar — and the news unsettled him.
“That’s definitely disgusting,” Albanese said. “I’ll be looking now for stuff in my food.”
In September, sophomore computer science major Ngou Yin Yip found a nail head in his salad from South Campus Dining Hall.
While Gbolade acknowledged that the nail head incident was more serious than her run-in with the caterpillar, she said the experience might affect her view of campus dining halls moving forward.
“I do feel like it affects my trust somewhat,” she said. “It was good to know that they claim that they are following protocol, but at the same time, they’re disregarding that it still happened.”