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School Cafeterias Posing Health Risks to Children

A recent study concluded that some cafeterias in the U.S. are not making the cut on safety.

High school cafeterias in 20 different jurisdictions across America were included in a study that discovered roaches, rats and outdated safety codes.

Researchers from The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is a Washington-based non-profit organization evaluated the cafeterias on four criteria which included:

  1. How optimal the food safety codes are
  2. How often the facilities are inspected
  3. How easy is to obtain public information about the cafeteria from the Internet
  4. How safe the cafeterias themselves are

Not one school received a full 100 percent. The average ranged from the 60 to 70 percentile range. CSPI’s hometown of Washington and the lowest-ranked school system of Hartford, Connecticut both ranked lower than 50 percent.

School systems at the top of the list included Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, Houston, Texas, King County, Washington and Maricopa County, Arizona.

Certain criteria used which could affect the rating of a jurisdiction included whether the jurisdiction’s federal requirement of having biannual inspections was met and the number of health violations found during these inspections.

Another factor which negatively impacted many jurisdictions was the lack of information available on the internet about the safety of their cafeterias, a criterion set by the CPSI. While receiving between 60 to 90 percent on all other categories, many received a less than 30 percent rating in this category, dramatically lowering their overall rating.

Schools that deserve special applause include Maricopa County, Arizona. which exceeded the federal requirement of biannual inspections, and the city of Chicago which features an inspection rule that results in an automatic failure for any rodent droppings spotted.

Our children’s safety should be our number one priority. My recommendation is for parents to “brown bag” their kid’s lunch with organic, healthy and most of all clean foods. Doing it this way leaves little room for error. Aside from the terrible quality of the processed foods found in most schools, sanitary issues are now giving parents more of a reason to prepare the food themselves.

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Comment from S.Bowman
Time February 15, 2007 at 1:16 pm

For a country that used to pride itself on being the most advanced, we sure are falling behind on just about every front. Cafeterias from schools to hospitals are a mixed bag to say the least. Our child care and survival/health for children is somewhere near the bottom, many folks do without basic health coverage due to excessive profit-taking by companies, many of the systems we rely on are woefully out-dated. What isn’t out-dated is likely corrupt or non-existent.

We need to take notice, get involved, and clean up our own act before trying to teach others how to do things ‘right’. Our backyard is a mess!

Comment from T. Uphold
Time February 16, 2007 at 1:34 pm

I work in a school cafeteria and would like to see major improvements myself. Biannual inspections are often tipped off by other schools in the district so some of the problems that are constant can be nipped before discovery. Parents NEED to get more involved than just reading the menu and deciding if they are paying for a lunch or not!!!! Read what they are actually ordering, ask what they are actually eating and DEMAND to know what the rating is when they are inspected. Join your child for lunch one day just to see for yourself! It can be very eye opening indeed!!
In response to the previous comment – most cafeterias are a profit-taking company called your Board of Education. GET INVOLVED!

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