Gina Keilen, Registered Dietitian
This summer, an all-you-care-to-eat dining location for those seeking an allergen-free dining experience is opening at Michigan State University (MSU). Thrive, located in the center of campus at Riverwalk Market at Owen Hall, offers take-out and dine-in options, is sesame-conscious and certified free from the Big 8 allergens plus gluten. As one of MSU’s 10 dining halls, Thrive is included in all campus dining plan options.
Registered Dietitian and Culinary Coordinator Gina Keilen spearheaded the initiative to bring an allergen-free dining location to campus in order to meet students’ evolving needs.
“Since I’ve been on campus, it’s been an almost 175% increase every year of people who contact me regarding some sort of allergen,” Keilen said. “Allergens continue to increase, and it’s becoming more forward-facing and severe as time goes on.”
Eat at State partnered with Neogen, MenuTrinfo and Kitchens and Confidence to guarantee an allergen-free dining experience including Thrive’s kitchen and countertops, free of cross-contact.
Kitchens with Confidence ensures Thrive is safe for all diners to enjoy through regular examinations of protocols and policies, inspections of food paths: from delivery and storage to preparation and serving, monthly compliance reports, and Big 8 allergen testing of ingredients and menu items.
What are the Big 8? Each meal is certified free of the top eight most common allergens: milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish as well as gluten. The location is also sesame-conscious, meaning sesame will not be used in any menu items.
Keilen is confident this addition to campus will help both students and the East Lansing community to thrive and not just survive when dining on campus.