Cornell Dining has taken steps to clean up its ingredient game, a move you might expect from your local boujee juice stand or chopped salad shop but one that may surprise you coming from a collegiate dining program serving a campus of over 20,000 students.


Despite its longstanding status as a controversial additive, monosodium glutamate (street name: notorious M.S.G.) is still commonly added to soups, meats, and other processed foods to up the umami factor. While some diners escape from an MSG-containing meal unfazed, others react poorly, with complaints ranging from the occasional headache and clamminess to severe nausea and chest pain. While the FDA classifies MSG as a food that’s “generally recognized as safe,” it’s nice to know we can all rest easy (and symptom-free) after eating food picked up on campus.

Dairy Without Added rBST

Mooove over, rBST: Cornell dairy products are the cream of the crop. Bad puns aside, all fluid milk, yogurt, and ice cream served on campus is made with milk without added rSBT, a growth hormone given to cattle to boost milk production. Cows given this hormone often have higher rates of infection, and the antibiotics they're treated with can end up in the milk we drink, contributing to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and prompting allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. It has been banned from the market in the European Union, Canada, New Zealand, and other countries since as early as 1999.

Zero Trans Fat

Studies show that trans fat is the most atherogenic type of fat out there—in other words, there is a high association between trans fat intake and coronary heart disease. In 2015, the FDA gave the food industry a hard-set ultimatum to get rid of added trans fats by 2018, but Cornell is ahead of the curve—100% of all foods in Cornell Dining’s All You Care to Eat locations are made with zero trans fat.

Nixing Nitrates and Nitrites

Sodium nitrates and nitrites are commonly used as meat preservatives. The International Agency for Research on Carcinogenicity classifies nitrates and nitrites as "probably carcinogenic to humans." Thankfully, no one has to worry about any of these carcinogens while dining at Cornell.

Soy-Free Meats.

While this may seem like a no-brainer, many manufacturers use soy as a meat extender to create lower-cost products. Dining administrators said sayonara to soy and committed to serving whole muscle meat.

Removal of Color Additives.

Step aside, Red 40: There’s a new sheriff in town. By 2019, Cornell Dining’s goal is to serve zero artificial color additives in its food. For once, dining hall food is Insta-worthy just the way it is. #IWokeUpLikeThis

In addition to these "cleaner eating" initiatives, Cornell Dining is home to one of the first allergen-free dining halls in the country and is committed to serving plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, sourcing locally when possible, and crafting menus with seasonality in mind. As Cornell students, we have enough on our plates without having to keep tabs on the quality of every ingredient that goes into our food—it's nice to know that the dining administration's got us covered.