New Canaan High School’s cafeteria last week failed a health inspection after officials found milk in a reach-in refrigerator at a higher temperature than required.
The milk in the unit near the cook line was found to be at 54 degrees during the unannounced Sept. 28 inspection, according to a report from a town sanitarian, whereas the state Health Code requires it to be at 41 degrees.
The Health Code allows for temperatures to be measured plus or minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit to account for the potential error in thermometer readings, officials say.
The milk’s temperature violates a requirement that food service establishments keep food “protected during storage, preparation, display, service and transportation,” as described on health inspection report forms.
In the language of the New Canaan Health Department, it represents a “four-point violation.” In surprise inspections, municipal health officials note any violation on a form that categorizes and grades each of them from one to four, with four being the most serious. A total of 100 points are possible, and each violation is deducted from that score. A food service establishment is said to have “failed” an inspection if its total score is less than 80 or if it’s cited for even a single 4-point violation.
NCHS additionally was cited for a pair of two-point violations, for keeping “raw meats above ready-to-eat-food” in a walk-in freezer, the report said, for having a “lettuce spinner unclean inside” and having an “unclean” ice machine interior, the report said. The cafeteria also had “rusted” and “moldy” shelving in the walk-in refrigerator and “unclean fans” stirring above open food containers, the report said.
The high school cafeteria had last failed a health inspection two years ago, when two-door reach-in fridge was found to be at 50 degrees, higher than required.
South, East and West Elementary Schools and Saxe Middle School all achieved perfect or near-perfect scores on surprise health inspections in September.
Asked about the inspections by NewCanaanite.com, the district released this statement attributable to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi: “Over the past few weeks each of our 5 kitchens were evaluated by the health department, and four of our five schools scored quite well. Unfortunately, at NCHS a small refrigerator used to temporarily hold food during preparation unexpectedly tripped off on the day of the inspection. The problem was corrected immediately that same day. Nonetheless, as a result of the refrigerator tripping off, the high school kitchen score was reduced and mandatorily rated down. We have spoken with the health department directly, and we look forward to having the NCHS kitchen reevaluated in the next few days.”
The last time each of the other schools failed an inspection due to major violations was:
- East—2016: chlorine sanitizer in a wiping cloth bucket at a toxic level;
- South—2017: Food items in a 2-door Hobart were discarded after the cooler was found to be at 63.7 degrees—far higher than required;
- West—2010: cream cheese, butter, sour cream and shredded cheese all improperly stored on top of a tray of frozen ice; overly diluted bleach sanitizer at 3-bay sink;
- Saxe—2012: dented, 6-pound can of Furmano’s chickpeas stored in dry storage area.