It's the first thing you look for when eating at a restaurant for the first time: its sanitation grade.
But what about your child's lunchroom?
"We hold the school cafeterias to the same standard [as restaurants]," says Dr. John Morrow, Pitt County's health director.
He says inspectors drop in unannounced at school cafeterias 3-4 times a year to make sure they're up to code.
"The biggest things are risks that would be immediate threats to public health, particularly for food-borne illnesses for high risk populations," Dr. Morrow says. "We want to make sure that all food services are clean, the facility is clean, but particularly how they handle the food, the food temperatures, proper cooling, proper heating, and proper handling of food are critical items."
He says school lunchrooms typically score in the high 90s, which has been the case at J.H. Rose High School for the past few years. That is until its most recent inspection in July.
Public records show points were docked for several things, including dust on the walls, spilled grease, a water leak, and a "fairly large roach problem throughout."
"[The inspector] found some roaches in some of the drains, under some shelving units, outside some of the food prep areas," says Ron Honeycutt, Pitt County's environmental health supervisor. "No place did she find any on food or food contact surfaces."
Inspectors gave school leaders recommendations and a score of 92, which is still an A rating. But with school back in session, we wanted to know if the problems have been fixed.
School officials would not let us inside to see for ourselves, but district representative Brock Letchworth insists they're on top of it.
"I think any parent has a right to be concerned," Letchworth says. "I would like to emphasize, though, that this score is not a horrible score. It's still an A. We've taken the steps to try to improve situations that were brought to our attention, and we're moving forward and we feel good about where we are."
9 On Your Side asked health officials why they didn't follow-up on J.H. Rose's problems before school started back this year. They said they generally wait until cafeterias are back in operation to do so.
Hours after our phone call to their office about this story, inspectors were back at the school and tell us the conditions have improved.
The next full inspection should happen in the next few months. We'll update you on their sanitation score.
If you want to check the scores at your child's school, go to your county's health department website, click on "environmental health" and search for restaurant ratings.
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