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MSU to open allergen-free dining hall

Posted: 8:52 PM, Jun 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-28 06:24:45-04
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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University students with food allergies will soon have more dining options.

That's because MSU is opening it's first allergen-free cafeteria.

And just because it's allergen-free, doesn't mean it won't have options. There are three stations: comfort food, street food, and even one for gluten-free chicken tenders and fries.

MSU says the goal is to make safe food that is also tasty.

"The concept was more make it about the food with the added bonus that it was going to be allergen-free."

That means the new Thrive dining hall will serve food without peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, and shellfish. It will also be gluten-free. Dietitian Gina Keilen says MSU created Thrive because a growing number of students have dietary restrictions.

"I do find it becoming more and more prevalent. More and more people are reaching out for requests, not only just in numbers but in complexity," Keilen said.

And she's not wrong. Dr. Manoj Mohan says food allergies are appearing a lot more in the population.

"Food allergy is taking off. We're seeing an increase in the percentage of newly food-allergy diagnosed people. It depends what study you read, but most people say about six to ten percent of individuals in the United States have a food allergy, and it could be higher than that," Dr. Mohan at the Okemos Allergy Center said.

Keilen says the people working and going in and out of the kitchen will have to follow strict safety guidelines, like wearing a lab coat. The kitchen will also test the food for allergens routinely. She says these requirements and more are there to ensure Thrive is a place where people with food allergies can go, and not have to worry.

"I've been able to meet with several incoming students and their parents along the way of those that have dietary restrictions and even some of them bringing tears to their eyes with the reassurance that they will be able to eat successfully with us and they can trust us to serve their Spartans safely," Keilen said.

Assuming it passes an audit, Thrive will be certified "free" from the top eight allergens and gluten when it opens on July 8th. You can find it inside Owen Hall on campus.

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