School cafeterias receive low health ratings
Mansfield, East Newton and Sharp scores fall

COVINGTON - Some school nutrition workers have spent the bulk of this month trying to improve their kitchens after receiving low scores on this month's food service establishment inspection reports.

According to reports from October, one school scored a C and two scored Bs.

"All food service establishments including the School Nutrition Program are working diligently to learn and implement the new, more restrictive health regulations that were implemented in the fall of 2007," said Jan Loomans, director of school nutrition for the Newton County School System, in an

e-mail. "Overall the School Nutrition Program is receiving excellent scores."

While most school food scores tend to be high, this month saw a drop in compliance at some public schools.

The Georgia Department of Human Resources gave Mansfield Elementary School a score of a 73, which is a C, on its inspection report Oct. 16.

Public eating establishments have four possible scores: from 90 to 100 is a grade A; an 80 to 89 is a B; a 70 to 79 is a C; and below 70 is a U, or unacceptable.

Mansfield's report shows the school was not in compliance with good hygienic practices when an employee was seen having his/her bare hands in contact with bell peppers for salads; employees are required to wear gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods.

The school also was cited for an employee keeping a drink in the food preparation area, which is not allowed in order to be in compliance with employee health and good hygienic practices.

The DHR official stated in the report that the school wasn't in compliance with food being separated and protected from contamination when eggs were seen stored above sour cream because eggs should be kept on the lowest shelf. Also, sanitized wiping clothes were stored in a food preparation area when not being used, which is in violation of preventing food contamination.

Loomans said everything the DHR official cited the school on was corrected in order for the school to receive a score of a 100 on its follow up inspection Thursday.

"The School Nutrition Central Office staff and Mansfield School Nutrition Manager worked together to address the five issues that were identified, and they were immediately corrected," Loomans said.

East Newton Elementary School received an 81-B on its Oct. 22 inspection report, which cited the school as being out of compliance with having employee drinks in a food preparation area, not cleaning a food preparation sink, having hand sanitizer that was too strong, storing milk containers on the floor instead of 6 inches off the floor, keeping a wet wiping cloth on a counter and having several non-food surface areas of the kitchen not cleaned or working properly. These issues were in violation of employee health and good hygienic practices and prevention of food contamination, among other matters.

Additionally, Sharp Learning Center was given an 89-B on its Oct. 21 inspection report, which stated the school was not in compliance when the DHR official observed an employee not washing his/her hands between wiping down a surface and preparing food and several non-food surfaces were not cleaned or in proper working condition. These problems also were in violation of good hygienic practices and contamination.

"The scores at East Newton and Sharp did not trigger a follow up inspection," Loomans said. "The School Nutrition Program Central Office staff has also worked with these schools to improve their scores on future inspections."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.