‘Ev­i­dence of mice’ found in Ocean Springs school cafe­te­ria

The Sun Herald - - Stay Connected - BY ROBIN FITZGER­ALD rfitzger­ald@sun­her­ald.com

The Mis­sis­sippi State De­part­ment of Health has cited a Coast school for a crit­i­cal food ser­vice vi­o­la­tion of the ro­dent kind. The prin­ci­pal has shut down the cafe­te­ria tem­po­rar­ily.

St. Alphon­sus Catholic School, which serves pre-K through 6th-grade stu­dents in Ocean Springs, re­ceived a score of C af­ter “ev­i­dence of mice” was found, said Dea­con David Allen, the prin­ci­pal.

The school has closed its cafe­te­ria un­til af­ter the Thanks­giv­ing break.

“We were as shocked as any­body,” Allen said. “We jumped in im­me­di­ately to take care of the prob­lem.

“This is a very se­ri­ous prob­lem, and for the sake of our chil­dren and fam­i­lies, we have taken im­me­di­ate pre­cau­tion­ary ac­tions which go above and be­yond what is re­quired of us to do.”

Restau­rants cited for ro­dents typ­i­cally do not shut down pend­ing a rein­spec­tion. The cafe­te­ria clo­sure is the school’s de­ci­sion as a pre­cau­tion.

On­line health de­part­ment re­ports show the school was the only food estab­lish­ment in District IX to re­ceive a crit­i­cal vi­o­la­tion dur­ing in­spec­tions from Nov. 1 through Nov. 7. The South Mis­sis­sippi district cov­ers Har­ri­son, Han­cock, Jack­son, Pearl River, Stone

and Ge­orge coun­ties.

The crit­i­cal vi­o­la­tion, from the re­port:

● St. Alphon­sus Catholic School, 504 Jack­son Ave., Ocean Springs: In a sched­uled in­spec­tion on Nov. 7, was not in com­pli­ance with a reg­u­la­tion of hav­ing no in­sects, ro­dents or an­i­mals present. The school had re­ceived an A in its most re­cent in­spec­tion on April 18, 2018, and has re­ceived mostly As since April 29, 2008. The school passed all in­spec­tions from 2004 through April 2007 while the health de­part­ment rated food ser­vice venues only by “pass” or “fail” in­stead of us­ing a graded sys­tem.

Allen said the school in­formed par­ents of the ro­dent prob­lem and an ac­tion plan in an email and a tele­phone broad­cast at the end of the school day Wed­nes­day. Par­ents pitched in to help feed the chil­dren Thurs­day, he said.

The par­ents’ re­sponse “was over­whelm­ingly sup­port­ive,” Allen said.

Restau­rants and other food venues re­ceive an A if they pass a state in­spec­tion, and a B if vi­o­la­tions are cor­rected dur­ing the in­spec­tion. A score of C is given for crit­i­cal vi­o­la­tions.

Busi­nesses are re­quired to post their lat­est in­spec­tion re­port in pub­lic view.

State en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists listed a to­tal of 473 restau­rants or other food ser­vice venues sched­uled for in­spec­tions from Nov. 1 through Nov. 7. They found crit­i­cal vi­o­la­tions at a to­tal of eight es­tab­lish­ments.

A to­tal of 124 in­spec­tions were listed at venues in South Mis­sis­sippi. On­line health de­part­ment records show in­spec­tions were not listed for 11 of the venues, and for 14 oth­ers else­where in the state.

You can check records of any state food venue on­line at msdh.ms.gov.

To file a com­plaint about a spe­cific place, email food @msdh.ms.gov or con­tact your county health de­part­ment.

Health de­part­ment work­ers look for state code vi­o­la­tions that can lead to food con­tam­i­na­tion, ill­ness or other health prob­lems. The health de­part­ment can shut down a food venue for vi­o­la­tions deemed to be an im­me­di­ate pub­lic health haz­ard.

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