SPECIAL REPORT: Spokane School Cafeteria Food Inspections - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

SPECIAL REPORT: Spokane School Cafeteria Food Inspections

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“We are checking to see if there any foods in progress and checking to see what methods they are using,” Lisa Breen, Environmental Food Safety Specialist, told KHQ's Kjerstin Ramsing, while she put a PH balance test strip onto a serving fork.

Breen, along with other food safety specialists at the Spokane Regional Health District, inspect every single school within Spokane Public Schools.

Overall the organizations want to convey the great partnership they say exists in Spokane County to ensure the foods kids eat at school are both safe and nutritious.

"It's only a violation if we are the ones discovering it and then we have them do the correction,” Breen said. 

KHQ pulled the current records. The inspection reports are split into different categories. There are red "high risk" factors like “proper cook time and temperature”, and blue "low risk" factors like “food properly labeled”.

In the dozens of reports that are attached to this article, some had serious violations, such as being dinged for not washing hands properly, while others had minor issues like not using the correct wiping cloths.

Breen says these are exceptions. “Normally when you go to a school kitchen the sanitation is great. (It's) Usually something we don't have to worry about at all.”

Doug Wordell, Director of Nutrition Services at Spokane Public Schools said, “We want our community to know that first and foremost kids' health and safety are up front.”

Wordell said every person working in a school kitchen must have a food worker card under Washington State law. He also said many go above and beyond that. In fact, there are some employees who have worked for the District for over 20 years.

“Food isn't nutritious until kids eat it, “ Wordell said. “It's got to look good and it's got to taste good and it's got to be safe. So really if kids were getting sick and things were going bad and we would lose customers.”

So we asked Janice Hall who is the kitchen manager and a parent at Garfield Elementary what she thought.

“I would absolutely eat here because it's clean and it's safe and I know the food is healthy,” Hall told KHQ.

The inspectors are once again going through each school for their 2014 report.

But for Janice Hall, she says it’s more than putting on a clean and safe face.

“This isn't put on for the camera. This is every day you could come in here any day of the week and this is how we operate.”

See how your child's school measures up.
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