Nearly Half of School Cafeterias Had Violations

A new report claims that almost half of New York City’s public school cafeterias had serious health problems in 2017.

NYCity News Service, which is run by CUNY students, said about 1,400 cafeterias were inspected last year and nearly 700 of them had at least one critical violation.  There was an average of two violations per cafeteria visit and one in every five citations was a critical violation, which is something that could lead to foodborne illnesses.

At P.S. 398 in Brooklyn, a health inspection on March 20 discovered live roaches and almost 600 fresh mice droppings.  Those conditions can cause people to become sick.

"I didn't know that and I think that would be a problem because rats with the feces and that's dangerous.  That contaminates the food too," one parent told WOR's Alice Stockton-Rossini.  "That means they have to come to exterminate.  That's the best option."

A health inspector found about 1,500 flies during a July 12 visit to a cafeteria at M.S. 137 in Queens.  When an inspector returned five days later, the kitchen was still dirty and there were still flies.  The problems were corrected on a third visit by an inspector.

“We are committed to working with the Department of Education to ensure all students are provided with a safe and clean environment in our city’s schools. We will continue to hold school cafeterias to rigorous safety standards,” the Department of Health said in a statement.

The statement added that 97 percent of schools passed inspection in 2016 and any violations were immediately addressed.

It’s unclear how many students may have become sick because of health violations.  At P.S. 132 in Brooklyn in September, five kids became ill after eating peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, cheese sandwiches and milk.  School officials claimed there was no evidence the students became sick because of the cafeteria food, but an inspector who visited several days later found dirty equipment.

"It absolutely concerns me because, certainly, these are where our children come to learn and this is where they spend their day," one parent said.  "I will say though, for at least the school they go to, I haven't seen rodents.  I haven't seen mouse droppings in the classrooms or in the offices that I've been to."

There’s a push to hire more health inspectors.  Currently, there are 15 inspectors assigned at any given time to evaluate school cafeterias.  Many have said that’s not enough to do an adequate job.

"No.  I'm not afraid to eat the food at my school," a student said.

Source: NYCity News Service

Photo Credit:  Getty Images

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