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Westford to destroy school food from suspect facility

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Published on March 31, 2011 in The Boston Globe, page B2

Nearly $10,000 worth of food and supplies owned by Westford public schools must be thrown away because the town’s Board of Health found the conditions substandard at the facility where the goods were stored, officials said.

The district has used a warehouse on Town Farm Road for about 35 years to store frozen food and dry goods, such as boxes of Styrofoam trays, Superintendent Everett Olsen said.

The town’s director of health care services, Sandy Collins, said that when the Board of Health inspected the property, it found three major violations. She declined to say exactly what the violations were, but said they involved sanitary conditions, the security of the building, and the food’s rotation schedule.

“Because of the conditions and some of the issues the board was grappling with, they made the determination to just have all of the product destroyed to make sure with 100 percent certainty the public safety is protected,” Collins said.

Frozen foods will now be delivered directly to the schools, Olsen said, and the dry goods will be stored in his own office. He said he and other district officials will work closely with the Board of Health to rectify the situation.

“We want to maintain the confidence of parents,” Olsen said. “We have an excellent school system in Westford, and the last thing I will ever do as superintendent is jeopardize the health and safety of our students and staff.”

The violations were discovered after about 70 students at Blanchard Middle School were absent because of a stomach virus about two weeks ago, Olsen said. The school nurse called the Health Department, which looked into the matter.

Collins said her department spoke with several doctors in the area and looked at other schools to see if the outbreak was affecting only Westford. They inspected the food service at the middle school and the storage facility.

While the investigation found health violations at the facility, she said, it found no link between the violations and the illnesses.

In coming days, the Board of Health will supervise the disposal of the goods and work closely with the district to maintain health standards.

“They’re being very cooperative, and they’re trying to give us as much information as possible,” Collins said. “There are no issues going forward.”

Written by jdunccc

March 31, 2011 at 9:02 am

Posted in The Boston Globe

Tagged with ,