Schools are skipping out on thier responsibility to prepare food safety plans.

Under the Richard B. Russell School Lunch Act of 2004, all schools were to have HACCP plans in place years ago.…Policy…/2005-01-10.pdf

Here below is a perfect example of why. Schools that do not have a monitoring system in place are in default of federal guidelines. Whether the temperature abuse problem that led to this outbreak was wholly caused or partially caused by the school, the lack of temperature controls for 4 hours and failure to test incoming product temperature is what HACCP was meant to correct.

While retailers demand food safety management systems for suppliers, the food service, institutions and retail firms at the vulnerable end of the supply chain have resisted developing food safety systems.

The Richard B Russell act was supposed to fix this in schools, but there are few if any schools who have heeded this requirement. The political protection that schools enjoy (being part of the county, just like the health departments) is partially to blame, as is lack of funding for health departments at the county level. It’s a Federal Program! An “unfunded mandate”, or so say the health departments. The insulation that retailers and food service firms enjoy from the political action campaigns of the National Restaurant Association is also wrong.

Here we see the convergence of hazards from the retail level and the school coming together to make pedople ill. All of them should thank God it was not E coli O157:H7. In any event this outbreak was easily preventable.

When will the consumer become the focus of food safety?

Well it seems only when the restaurants and schools who cause these outbreaks are sued, and so let the lawsuits fly.

Wake up people!

ILLINOIS: Merle’s owner decries ‘reckless’ health report
Evanston Review
Karen Berkowitz,ev-merles-criticizes-health-report-030411-s1.article

Thanks to

The owner of Merle’s BBQ Restaurant in Evanston Friday decried the Evanston Health Department’s "rush to judgment" in blaming the restaurant for the outbreak of foodborne illness after an event Feb. 16 at Haven Middle School.

Merle’s owner Larry Huber said the restaurant had no control over how the food was served after it dropped off the food order.

"The event was not a fully catered event, but a drop-and-go delivery," said Huber. "If it had been a fully catered event, we would have had the appropriate staff and equipment to maintain the presentation and quality."

One of the 30 people who reportedly became ill after eating the food, served "buffet style" during parent-teacher conference night, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the eatery.

The lawsuit quoted the findings of the Evanston Health Department, as summarized in a Feb. 24 press release that was posted on the city’s website and reported on in the media.

(This is an excellent study on Clostridium perfringens and worth reading)

The Health Department identified unsafe food handling and temperature storage at both Merle’s and Haven Middle School as possible causes and concluded "that it’s unlikely the exact cause of the outbreak will be determined."

The food was prepared at Merle’s, 1727 Benson Ave., and delivered to Haven Middle School, 2417 Prairie Ave., where it was served without a heating source between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., according to the Health Department.

Huber said he was told by a Health Department manager that none of the samples taken from Merle’s tested positive for “Clostridium perfringens”, which was determined to be the cause of the outbreak.

Huber was informed the restaurant did not take hourly time and temperature logs, but he contends the practice is not required by the health codes of either the state of Illinois or the city of Evanston.

According to Huber, the restaurant was in full compliance of the requirement that foods prepared and then cooled for later serving be labeled with the time and date they are made.

Eric Palmer, communications director for the city of Evanston, said Friday the city has no comment and stands behind the statement issued last week.