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Inspectors give all clear to local school kitchen after student finds discolored burger patty


Update 9/8/22 4:30 p.m.

The kitchen at Colonel Mitchell Paige Mitchell School was given a perfect score of 100 and an "A" rating, following an inspection by the Department of Environmental Health Thursday morning.

DSUSD announced that Inspector Dana Covos with the Department of Environmental Health found no areas of contamination or uncleanliness anywhere on the site.

The vendor told DSUSD that the discoloration on the meat was caused by a stamp used during the inspection of hamburger products.

Cappello stated that he and his team appreciate any type of community feedback from students and parents. He noted, “We serve over 22,000 meals each day and it is imperative that the food is both safe and nutritious.”

Original Report 10:00 a.m.

The Desert Sands Unified School District was looking into its food handling procedures and production facilities after a student photographed a discolored piece of beef in their school lunch.

"The safety of the children in our care is the top priority for everyone on staff at Desert Sands Unified School District," said district spokeswoman Mary Perry. "This is true of every aspect of that care from education to transportation to the meals we serve," Perry added.

File photo of DSUSD school lunch program

The incident happened Wednesday at Colonel Mitchell Paige Middle school when a student reportedly opened a hamburger bun to find a discolored piece of beef inside.

Perry said the student shared a photo of the burger with their mother who immediately contacted the school's principal and the district's director of nutrition services, Daniel Cappello.

Perry said a full investigation was underway to determine if there was any possible contamination present and that Cappello immediately went to the school to inspect the food served and the food stored in the site’s freezers.

In checking the school’s freezers, Perry noted the temperature was 22° which is above the optimum of 0° but within a range that should not have led to the discoloration.  

File photo of school lunches being produced in the DSUSD school meals kitchen facility

The Department of Public Health was set to be on-site Thursday morning to conduct an inspection of the food and storage. Cappello also reportedly contacted the food vendor.

Desert Sands said it keeps samples of all food served to students in a one-week period so that inspections can take place should questions arise. Perry said that process is underway and all food storage units at the school, from freezer to cabinets to delivery trucks, were being cleansed and disinfected.

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