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Release: Oct. 26, 2001

Powdery substance spilled at Oakdale turns out to be cake mix

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A quantity of a powdery white substance discovered near the Oakdale Hall loading dock on the University of Iowa Oakdale Research Campus late Wednesday afternoon turned out to be nothing more than a spilled bag of white cake mix from the Oakdale Hall bakery, adjacent to the UI Hygienic Laboratory.

The powder was discovered after 4 p.m. by National Guard personnel stationed at Oakdale. UI Hygienic Laboratory personnel cleaned up the powder and conducted tests that confirmed that it was neither hazardous nor toxic. University Public Safety officers later determined that the substance was cake mix accidentally spilled while being transferred from a delivery truck to the Oakdale Hall bakery.

Some UI employees at Oakdale were inconvenienced by the investigation and cleanup because safety protocols prevented them from going to their cars in the Oakdale Hall parking lot.

Mary Gilchrist, director of the University Hygienic Laboratory, said it was very unfortunate that any UI staff and visitors experienced any inconvenience, but pointed out that personnel responding to the incident followed appropriate precautions.

Gilchrist said a silver lining to the episode was that University Hygienic Laboratory personnel, UI Public Safety, University Laundry and UI infectious disease specialists had an opportunity to react to what appeared to be a real-life biohazard emergency and will be even better prepared in the future.