Metro Health Inspectors making surprise inspections of cafeterias in Metro-Nashville Public Schools found critical violations at several schools.
A critical violation is an item found during the inspection that requires immediate attention.
They include things like food meeting temperature requirements during cooking, cross contamination prevention, hand sanitation and proper temperature for dish washing machines.
Metro Health inspectors are required to inspect MNPS cafeterias just like they would a restaurant twice a year.
Nashville's News 2 obtained the most recent health inspections through an open records request.
Of the inspections reviewed Apollo Middle School scored the lowest during its August 21 health inspection. The school scored at an 85.
Critical violations noted was honey dew melon not properly stored or cooled. The final rinse of the dishwasher was not at a high enough temperature.
At Donelson Middle School the cafeteria scored an 87 August 22.
Health inspectors found dented cans stored with good cans which is considered a critical violation.
Inspectors also found a fan guard that was excessively dirty blowing toward food and clean pans.
At Mt. View Elementary, health inspectors gave the school an 88.
Inspectors found chemicals not properly labeled and severely damaged cans of vegetables, which are both critical violations.
Inspectors also noted no soap at the hand sink and non-working towel dispenser at the hand sink.
At A.Z. Kelly Elementary, the cafeteria scored a 92 on September 19.
Inspectors noted a rusty can opener blade and no drain plug in the dumpster.
At Park Avenue Elementary inspectors scored the cafeteria at a 92 and noted moldy milk cartons in the milk cooler students grab their milk from on the serving line.
They also noted the milk cooler was not at the proper temperature for storing the milk.
At Wright Middle School on September 3, inspectors gave the cafeteria a 93 and noted dead cockroaches under the prep sink and a busted light shield over food items.
Nashville's News 2 took the health inspections to Spencer Taylor, MNPS' Director of Nutrition.
Taylor said all the issues raised by health inspectors were addressed immediately by the district.
“Usually when the health department comes out and finds a potential food hazard or problem they do on the spot correction at that point,” Taylor said. “What we do after we receive all documentation is we go out there again and do internal training.”
Taylor told News 2 that Metro school cafeterias have a district wide health inspection score average of 96.
The district also implemented a training requirement that all cafeteria managers be Servsafe certified.
According to the company's Web site, the ServSafe® program provides food safety training, exams and educational materials to food service managers.
That is not a state requirement.
Taylor has also implemented a mandatory reporting process for cafeterias that score below a 95 or when inspectors find a critical violation.
“If a critical violation is found, we address that violation within the next 24 hours depending on the violation,” Taylor said. “They have to fax those reports into our office so we can see the violations in writing also get in touch with their field supervisor.”
Taylor said field supervisors also make surprise inspections of the cafeterias in their zone.
“We would like parents to know that we take this very seriously and that our employees are well trained to deal with circumstances that arise at their schools,” Taylor said.
MNPS parents Nashville's News 2 spoke to were concerned by what health inspectors found.
Unlike picking a restaurant, many students have no choice but to eat the food served by their school cafeteria.
“First of all you have children who are on free and reduced lunch and they absolutely don't have an alternative,” Sharon Ambrose said. “I think it is more critical than a private enterprise restaurant.”
“They need to get the stuff cleaned up because that is not good for kids to be in that environment,” Paul Heathcock said. “They need to have someone from the school system come inspect it on a weekly basis or at least a monthly basis.”
Taylor said all the issues at the schools the health department cited have been addressed and resolved.
Click here to check your child's school health score.