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 May 14, 2005
Cafeteria Inspections
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 Moldy tomato sauce, recycled apples, no sneeze guards, and foods at unsafe temperatures. These are just some of the critical violations found in our local schools. But there's also something good on the menu that every parent needs to see.

What's on the menu at your child's school? Could it be the tomato puree with mold spores on it? Or the moldy salad dressing or how about this, a pot of bacteria laden uncovered soup sitting on the floor of the walk-in fridge?

Ernie Julian, Director, Food Protection, RI Department of Health

"Major concern again, are foods at unsafe temps..."

Ernie Julian, Director of Food Protection for the Department of Health says there are 11 critical violations inspectors consider priorities. Things like unsafe food temperatures, food service employees not washing their hands, utensils and dishes not sanitized. Of the 158 schools inspected this year, 50 had violated one or more of these critical violations.


"We did have a school this year that we found out they were re-serving the apples. Kids wouldn't eat them, they'd leave them on their tray, bring them back and re-serve. A potential for viruses and bacteria."

The Eyewitness News Investigators got a hold of the inspection report for Veterans Memorial Elementary School in Central Falls, not only was the kitchen staff recycling apples, but they were washing them in a dirty sink, and there were even more violations, including unsafe food temperatures. The investigators contacted Aramark, the company that provides food service to a large number of schools in Rhode Island, including Veterans Memorial. No one would comment on camera, but in a written statement they said:

"Every effort was taken to immediately correct all issues raised by the Department of Health at the time of the inspection in January."

Veterans Memorial Elementary was not the only school cited, the list of schools cited for violations is long.

Michelle Felman, Mgr. Food Service, Burrillville

"We're a pilot food safe school...."

 But there are a number of schools that are were not cited for health violations, including the Burriville Middle School. These schools are working with a grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control. Julian

Ernie Julian

"The reason they got the money was because of what they are doing in cafeteria's. They're ahead of everyone else, ahead of the curb."

The schools provide hand sanitizers for students entering the lunch line, ongoing staff training, from the students, teachers and parents, everyone is educated on food safety and it seems to be working. Hand washing is one of the biggest problems facing most schools. In fact a national study found that you could reduce gastro-intestinal illness by 50-percent if kids just washed their hands 4 times a day at school. But unfortunately many schools keep their restrooms locked because of vandalism. With the Eyewitness News Investigators, I'm Susan Hogan.

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