Organic To Go gone from Georgetown

The Hoya reports that Georgetown University has ended its relationship with Organic To Go as the source of a norovirus outbreak that sickened at least 212 and was linked to Leo O’Donovan Hall continues to be investigated.

University spokesperson Julie Bataille said,

“When we reopened [O’Donovan Hall], we proactively agreed with the Department of Health to do so preparing our own Grab ‘n’ Go items as there was enough reason to suspect a potential link between those items and the virus on campus.”

The Hoya says that Organic To Go was introduced as an environmentally friendly choice and as part of the larger renovations to improve food options at the dining hall this fall.

Stephanie Sampiere, vice president of corporate communications at Organic To Go, said the company is no longer serving Georgetown, but maintained that Organic To Go could not have been the cause of the norovirus outbreak.

“All Organic To Go food is prepared in a central commissary kitchen, and the company served thousands of customers’ food prepared from the commissary kitchen that day and received absolutely no concern in regards to Organic To Go’s food.”

That’s the same Stephanie Sampiere who was quick off the mark when I published an entry about a possible link between norovirus outbreaks at Georgetown and the University of Southern California earlier this month, e-mailing me to remove the blog post.

I told her to post a comment, she persisted, so I added a line about how Organic To Go had stopped serving USC in Aug. 2008.

And I sent Stephanie another message:

“I added a note. But you’ve piqued my interest and I can’t find anything on your website.

So I’d like some information on the microbial standards for all fresh fruits and vegetables used by Organic-to-Go, where grab-and-go food is prepared and the training requirements for those assembling and serving food.

Stephanie wrote that she would try and track down that information.

I’m still waiting.

Food service is under tremendous pressure to go local, organic and sustainable, whatever those words mean. But the basics are the same: any supplier needs to substantively prove they are providing microbiologically safe product.