More than half of the school kitchens in the Philadelphia School District failed the last round of health inspections, according to state records analyzed by Philadelphia Daily News.
The worst offenders appeared to be charter schools, which were 66 percent out of compliance, compared with the 53 percent failure rate across the district. According to The Daily News, some schools on the list had as 20 significant violations, ranging from “mouse feces found on cooking utensils to food being stored next to chemicals.”
The paper quotes a recent West Philadelphia High School graduate, “They served chicken twice a week, and it wouldn’t be cooked all the way through–it was soft and pink in the middle. The food worker would put it in a microwave for five minutes like that would make it better. It would be the same way every time.”
Also listed as violations: milk stored at improper temperatures, and infestations of mice and roaches.
According to The Daily News, in February Philadelphia switched to a risk-based inspection system that looks at 27 critical categories from personal hygiene. Under the new system health department officials have seen an increase in a variety of violations, though no foodborne illnesses among school children have been reported.
All the food safety inspection reports for both public and private schools in the city can be viewed here.