School canteens: checks on Nas, one out of 3 is irregular
Poorly stored or expired food, kitchens in precarious hygienic conditions, irregular staff. The Carabinieri of the Command for the protection of health, in agreement with the Ministry of Health, as part of a nationwide inspection campaign carried out inspections on 1,058 collective catering companies operating within school canteens of all levels and grade, from nursery schools to high schools, both public and private: among the controlled companies, 341 showed irregularities, equal to 31%, with 482 criminal and administrative violations and consequent fines of 240 thousand euros.
Nine kitchen areas have been suspended or seized, 22 managers reported. Claimed due to violations in food management and hygiene conditions in the meal preparation rooms, in the lack of compliance in quality and quantity with the pre-established requirements of the tender specifications, in the regularity of employment of the workers and relative possession of adequate qualifications and professional preparation. In the same context, the suspension of the activity or the seizure of 9 kitchen areas operating within the school canteens was ordered due to significant hygienic-sanitary and structural deficiencies, such as the widespread presence of humidity and mold formation. In one episode, the Nas of Potenza discovered a toilet used as an impromptu storage of crockery and kitchen utensils. Over 700 kilos of foodstuffs (meat, cheese, fruit and vegetables, oil) were also seized, found to be untraceable, expired and stored in unsuitable environments and intended for use in dishes, albeit of lower quality than expected.
Particular situations concerned the referral to the GA of 22 canteen service managers held responsible for crimes of fraud and non-compliance with public supplies, possession of food in a poor state of conservation and non-compliance with workplace safety legislation. The investigations by the NAS have revealed the fraudulent use of ingredients of lower quality than that agreed in the supply contracts stipulated with the Municipalities, such as Parmigiano Dop replaced with other cheeses, conventional eggs instead of those from organic farming and frozen products instead of those fresh. The absence of one of the ingredients was also ascertained, as in an institute in the province of Caserta, where the "pasta and potatoes" dish was given to the students without the presence of potatoes.
The majority of infractions, equal to 85%, concerned aspects of administrative sanctions such as structural and plant deficiencies in the rooms used for preparing meals, failure to implement self-monitoring, traceability and the presence of allergens, fundamental elements 2 for preventing possible episodes of intoxication and allergic reactions, even more significant in the sensitive groups of school users.
Following the inspection carried out in the canteen of a private school in Bergamo, the presence was found, among the raw materials used for the preparation of meals, of foods no longer suitable for consumption, such as fresh pasta with expired validity and flours with minimum conservation exceeded by one year. During three further checks carried out in the canteens of as many school complexes in the same province, poor hygienic conditions were found, for various reasons, the use of expired foods for the preparation of meals and the presence of arbitrarily frozen foodstuffs without following the procedures.
40 kilos of frozen food products (meat, fruit and vegetables and dairy products) seized, partly expired and partly untraceable as they were kept in anonymous packages, found during the check carried out in the canteen of a school in the province of Treviso . In the same context, hygienic-sanitary and structural deficiencies in the premises were ascertained, and fines totaling 3,500 euros were imposed against the owner of the company managing the school canteen service.
During the check carried out at the cooking center of a primary school in the province of Pavia, serious structural deficiencies were found consisting of water infiltrations, mould, torn ceiling panels, as well as the failure to apply the self-checking procedures. Administrative fines were imposed for a total of 3,000 euros and restoration work on the premises was ordered.
The legal representative of a cooperative managing the canteen of a kindergarten / primary school in the province of Sassari was deferred in a state of freedom, for having held and administered to pupils food of a different quality than that envisaged in the related contract for the canteen service , represented by cod and pre-cooked, frozen and breaded meat products instead of fresh ones, and generic eggs instead of the organic ones provided for in the tender specifications.
Ordered the suspension of the administration and sale of food and drinks at the refreshment point operating within a classical high school in Naples where poor hygienic conditions were found with reference to the equipment and environments for the storage and administration of gastronomy preparations . 50 kg of confectionery and foodstuffs intended for students and teaching staff were subjected to seizure, lacking any useful traceability information. The inspection activity was extended to the artisan production laboratory that supplied the confectionery products, located in Naples, which was found to have very serious structural health and hygiene deficiencies, for which the suspension of the activity was ordered. A further 400 kilos of raw materials, semi-finished and finished products were subjected to seizure. Contested administrative violations for a total of Euro 7,500.
Following the inspection activity at a comprehensive school in the province of Matera, a toilet facility in the gymnasium was discovered which was temporarily used as a deposit for crockery and kitchen utensils to be used in the local school canteen.
Following the check carried out at the cooking center supplying meals for a school complex, the immediate suspension of the activity was ordered in consideration of the serious hygienic-sanitary and structural deficiencies found.
During the hygienic-sanitary inspection carried out at the meal production laboratory of the company awarded the school meal service for primary and kindergarten schools in the province of Catania, 17 kg of food preparation was seized with no indication of origin, used for food breading. The presence of defrosted meat products without temperature control was also detected. At the refectory of another comprehensive school in Catania, some heat-sealed packages of meals were seized, due to the presence of foreign bodies (probably of a human hair nature), with the simultaneous taking of some food samples for analytical determinations. The owner of the food company responsible for supplying meals to the school has been released.