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School fails health inspection with 65

SNELLVILLE - Pharr Elementary School's cafeteria employees are receiving additional training after the school received an unsatisfactory score on its latest health inspection, school district officials said.

The school received a 65 during a routine inspection Wednesday, but most of the violations were procedural, said Vernon Goins, the spokesman for the Gwinnett County Health Department. There were no violations that posed significant health risks to students, he said.

"The schools have a fantastic nutrition program with their own inspectors," Goins said. "This, I guess, we just caught them on a very bad day."

During routine health inspections, establishments are graded on a scale of 100 on topics such as hygienic practices, sanitation, prevention of food contamination, and pest and animal control. Any scores below 70 are considered unsatisfactory, and a county health inspectors will perform a follow-up inspection within 10 days.

New health inspection regulations that began Dec. 1 are more rigorous and in-depth, and there have been an "inordinate" number of lower scores compared to last year, Goins said.

Some of the violations at Pharr Elementary included employees neglecting to wash their hands after handling dirty dishes and before touching clean dishes, using unapproved beverage containers for their personal consumption and pouring the contents of their beverage cups into the beverage sink, according to the report published online at www.gwinnetthealth.com.

Brown mold was also found in the dispenser of an ice machine, the report states. Goins said it was "slime mold," which is more unsightly than it is dangerous.

Jorge Quintana, a spokesman for Gwinnett County Public Schools, said the mold will be removed. Employees are also being trained to wipe around a gasket daily and to perform a four-step cleaning and sanitation process each month to prevent the mold from returning.

Employees are also being trained by school district officials on the new procedures they must follow, he said.

Quintana said he doesn't think the procedural violations reflect on food safety at the elementary school. He said students are served "quality and safe food."

"There will be a follow-up inspection," he said. "We're very confident we will have a higher, if not perfect, score."

Gwinnett County Public Schools have a good record with the Health Department, Goins said. Since 2006, Pharr Elementary has passed its inspections, receiving perfect scores on Jan. 17, 2006, and on Oct. 31, as well as a 95 on Aug. 29, 2006, and a 92 on Feb. 5.

"I don't expect this to ever be a problem with them again," he said. "I'm sure they're all very perplexed and upset."

The county's health inspection reports are posted online at www.gwinnetthealth.com.

SideBar: Cafeteria violations

Below are some of the things that caused Pharr Elementary to lose points

on its latest health inspection. The full report is available online at www.gwinnetthealth.com.

· Employees not washing hands at appropriate intervals to prevent contaminating at dishwashing procedure station. Observed employee after working with dirty dishes and subsequently handling clean dishes without first washing hands and changing gloves to handle the clean dishes. Observed employees not wash their hands after drinking from approved beverage cups in the prep area.

· Observed employees drinking from unapproved beverage containers in the prep area - bottles and nondisposable cups or disposable cups not appropriately covered with lid and straw. All employee beverages must be consumed from disposable cup, lid and straw, and must be placed in an area away from prep surfaces/equipment/food.

n Ice machine unclean with brown mold at dispenser.

· Cold potentially hazardous foods not maintaining temperatures under 41 (degrees). Cheese, Mississippi caviar (a cold-held bean salad dish) and sliced black olives were holding temperatures between 46.3 (degrees) and 53.7 (degrees).

· Observed employees dumping contents of their beverage cups into the vegetable prep sink.

· Inspection report improperly located. The inspection report must be posted within 15 feet of the main entrance, 5-7 feet above the floor, and readable by consumers from one foot.