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.
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“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 re-inspection. 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:
- 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 on Thursday, he said.
The parents’ response “was overwhelmingly supportive,” Allen said.
The school received a score of B in a follow-up inspection on Nov. 19, records show.
The school will resume serving hot lunches on Nov. 26, Allen said on Nov. 23.
“Although we were not required to close, she (the inspector) complimented us for going above and beyond when she learned that we ceased service immediately in favor of having the facility professionally cleaned and sanitized for the sake of our students,” he said.
“The inspector’s only regret, she told us, was that she could not issue us a grade of ‘A”on the inspection since department regulations prevent awarding follow-up inspection grades above increments of one in these cases.”
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.