Hawaii school linked to outbreak was warned of cooling practices in September

Relaying a violation or noncompliance on an audit or inspection form to a food business is only useful if they result in system or practice changes. Having some sort of a checklist is fine, but if no one learns from the audit/inspection, problems arise. Ignoring risk factors  highlighted by a verifier is an organizational values problem: the wrong folks are in managerial positions.pinoy-spaghetti-1024x683

According to the Honolulu Star Adviser, something organizational went wrong at Waipahu Elementary in Hawaii and led to foodborne intoxication in 30 kids. Improper cooling and handling of a pasta dish was pointed too by investigators, and a day later health officials revealed that a September 2013 inspection revealed risky practices – the exact same ones thought to cause the outbreak in December.

Health inspectors cited Waipahu Elementary on Sept. 18 for failing to properly reheat food, according to Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo. The violation also had to do with preparing pasta noodles.

The inspection was part of a routine visit that health officials conduct once a semester.
Okubo said the school’s cafeteria staff was told how to correct the situation and instructed to follow proper time and temperature controls.

Less than three months later, more than 30 children and two adults fell ill after eating lunches prepared in the school’s cafeteria. Some 25 students were taken to area hospitals after experiencing dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and feeling clammy and sweaty.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.