Dead mouse ‘doesn’t meet expectations of cleanliness;’ inspections of Kansas school food services yield few violations
Posted: November 30th, 2011 - 4:31pm
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that during a Nov. 16 inspection of the Shawnee Heights High School food services area, a state inspector found the decomposing body of a baby mouse.
The dead mouse, nestled between a stack of refried beans and chemical cleaner in a warehouse connected to the kitchen, was one sign of the presence of mice.
The inspector also found dozens of feces pellets and some nesting materials in the warehouse, which stores canned and frozen foods shipped daily throughout the entire district.
The signs most likely were left over from the last time the warehouse reported a mouse issue — six months prior to the inspection, when six mice were exterminated.
“That doesn’t reach our level of expectation of cleanliness in the warehouse,” said Unified School District 450 superintendent Marty Stessman.
However, he said, the violations have been handled, and the facility is ready for its Dec. 16 follow-up inspection.
The findings at Shawnee Heights High School were rare for schools. Only three other instances of mice in Topeka-area schools have been reported since 2009, according to inspection reports from the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Food Safety and Lodging.
Critical violations were found in 80 of the 256 state inspections of Topeka’s public and private schools since 2009. And nine of those required a 30-day follow-up — usually because of the presence of pests. The rest of the problems are minor enough to be fixed on site, typically by the inspector.
A critical violation is something that is more likely to contribute to illness, food contamination or environmental health hazards, according to Amber Barham, food safety and loding district manager for northeast Kansas.
Topeka’s 56 public schools have been less likely to have critical violations and follow-up visits than the city’s nine private schools, which have had critical violations in half of their inspections since 2009.
Although these reports are public record — available on the KDA website — and typically are posted in the cafeteria, few people outside the cafeteria, including parents, school board members and superintendents, see the results.
Most school cafeteria inspections turn up few, if any, critical violations, making schools among the easier inspections for the state.
Almost 70 percent of school inspections in the past two years didn’t yield any critical violations. The remaining 80 inspections found a total of 130.