Shelby County Health Department Weighs In On Unsafe Food At Local Schools

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - The Shelby County Health Department is weighing in after a cafeteria worker says she documented food safety issues and unsanitary conditions at the Soulsville Charter School in South Memphis. 

The worker says her supervisors told her to look the other way when she complained about what was happening.

The SCS nutrition technician took dozens of photos and videos over several weeks to document what she said she saw in the kitchen. She says if those in charge at the Shelby County Central Nutrition Center were doing their jobs, this would never happen. We've concealed her identity because she fears by going public she will lose her job.

"The kids haven't done anything to deserve what is happening to them," said the worker.

Maggots in potatoes. Mold in the refrigerator. Spilled milk left on the floor for weeks. Just some of the conditions she says her pictures show in the kitchen at this South Memphis School. The cafeteria employee says students are being served food that is sometimes more than a week old, such as spaghetti. She says a piece of chicken wasn't fully cooked, but was served to a student. She blames kitchen employees who aren't following procedures.

"If you don't take your temps then you're not going to know the chicken is not done." Even though a bag of greens says "wash before cooking," the worker says video shows a fellow kitchen employee dumping the bag directly into the pan, unwashed.

She says food is often improperly stored, like the food in a cold box. She says it's supposed to be covered to prevent cross contamination.

We took her concerns to the Shelby County Health Department.

When it comes to mold in the refrigerator, SCHD food safety manager Kasia Smith Alexander had this to say: "if a fridge is in use, it should not have mold. Definitely that's a violation "

As for the woman's claims that children are being served leftover food which is more than a week old, "they should not be doing it. But then again, it depends on what it is," said Smith Alexander. Local I-Team Senior Investigator Jeni Diprizio told Smith Alexander one of the items was spaghetti according to the worker. "No,” said Alexander. "So spaghetti should not be kept a week and reserved?” Jeni asked. "No, should not," said Alexander.

The food not covered in the cold box is a no-no. "They need to be covered and we need to make sure the temperature is below 41 degrees," said Smith Alexander.

After complaining to her bosses and getting nowhere, the worker took her concerns to Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland.

"We spend so much money on schools for them not to get the basic necessities and for them not to take time to give them a decent meal. To me that's insulting," said Roland.

Roland has sent a letter to the district demanding answers.

We've been asking Shelby County Schools for an interview since last Friday. Instead, they released a statement which said in part the issues at Soulsville have been resolved.

“Shelby County Schools takes great pride in providing healthy and nutritious meals to more than 110,000 students across our community. We have strict protocols in place to ensure all food is safely prepared and adhere to all nutrition standards requested by the federal government.  In addition, we have an intensive in-service training process for employees who handle food to address food safety, preparation and sanitation.  Any complaints we received regarding Soulsville Charter have been addressed. Lastly, the last three health inspections scores related were 97, 93 and 98, which are above the average. 

 

Shelby County Schools provides food and nutrition services for not only SCS schools but most charter schools.

After our story, the SCHD went back to the school.  Inspectors were there on Tuesday and Wednesday. By the time the inspection was complete Wednesday, the school received a 98 on its score.


Don't Miss

  • Find It
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Win Tickets to See the RiverKings
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • You Could Get Your Mortgage Paid for a Year!
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Featured Employers
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Latest News