Florida state health inspectors are really cracking down on food inspection. Of the two dozen high school concession stands in Florida, no stand rated satisfactory during its first inspection by the Lee County Health Department.
The state Department of Health started requiring school concession stands be permitted and inspected last year. The department required school principals to submit permit applications to their county health departments.
“Concession stand have evolved from handing out candy bars and sodas to full-service food operations, says Ken Danielson, an inspections supervisor with the Lee County Health Department.
Danielson said these stands needed permits because they’re grilling, frying and they do potentially have hazardous foods there. Foods that require refrigeration or require hot holding.
The difference between restaurants and school concession stands is that each county’s health department is responsible for inspecting its schools’ concession stand, where the Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspect restaurants. The stands are inspected usually with schools’ cafeterias. Inspectors grade stands as satisfactory, unsatisfactory or incomplete.
They ultimately have the say to shut down the stand, but usually they do it only in extreme circumstances. According to Danielson, he rather educate than shut down.
The most common issues with concession stands is the missing refrigerator thermometers, dirty equipment and improperly stored chemicals.
Jeff Sommer, Ester high school athletic director, submitted their schools permit applications and thought they would easily pass.
“We went in and cleaned everything up top to bottom…Our inspector was tough,” says Summer.
The inspector found a broken sink, an improperly stored mop, water that wasn’t hot enough, foam cups stored on the floor and so much more. Ester high school had three pages of violations.
“We’d been doing everything we thought was right…but when you’re not in the restaurant business it’s different you don’t know,” says Terry Roharman, president of Estero’s booster club.