April 9, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • 12:30 PM EST
As if Mayor Eddie Perez needed any more problems to weigh down his leadership of the school system, I just found this gem, which seems to have slipped under the local news radar:
"Schools in Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Conn., are among those lagging in keeping up with safety inspections and cleanliness reporting for student cafeterias, concludes a report issued by a watchdog group Tuesday [Jan. 30, 2007]."
WebMD reported on the study by the Center for Science and Public Interest, in which Hartford received the lowest score, 37, out of a possible 100. Hartford was ranked nine points lower than second-worst Washington, D.C. Top scorer Fort Worth, TX rated an 80.
While the report doesn't measure what kind of disease outbreaks occur or what actual food safety measurements are in place, the study did measure that Hartford only usually inspects schools once a year, in contravention to federal law that demands twice yearly inspections.
Also, "The CSPI said the district averages a national high of 2.7 health code violations per school and that it maintains no web site for disseminating results to parents," the report said.
UPDATE: I just got an email telling me that the study is bogus, from the source:
The weight of the group's "violations" were mathematically unsound. Just another excuse to dog Hartford. No one seems to want to mention the Farmington Valley Health District, which also is cited in the "study." Find out the scores from the inspections at the 3 HPS cafeterias included in the study, and you'll see they were in the 80s and 90s, and that included HPHS, which had disruptions from ongoing construction.
The group counted the number of inspections against the school districts, but it was the first year the feds had required a second inspection - which isn't even HPS' job. It's the Hartford Health Dept.'s job. Hartford has more than 700 locations to inspect, and they were apparently behind the 8-ball for the first year of the new requirement.
On the math issue, the lack of a second inspection weigh as much or more than cafeteria workers failing to monitor the temperature of the food on the line and failure to wear gloves. Both of those violations, as well as signs of rodent infestation, were cited in the study's No. 1 school system in Texas. But boy they must of done a nice job of posting those reports on the Internet... whew!