The food poisoning outbreak at Waipahu Elementary school last week could have been prevented.
The Department of Health says the school was cited just months before for mishandling food.
They had just checked Waipahu Elementary's cafeteria on September 18th, as part of a twice a year inspection. During that probe they found a problem with the handling of spaghetti noodles.
"In September our food inspector went to this (Waipahu Elementary) Cafeteria and noticed this food handling problem with improperly heating the noodles," said Gary Gill with the Dept. of Health.
Health officials say the school was cited and experts consulted the cafeteria staff on correcting the potentially hazardous problem.
Three months later, the same thing happened again. Only this time more than 40 people got sick, along with two staff members.
Inspectors say critical time and temperature controls were missing.
"Our lab workers found Staph Arias C and B," continued Gill. "So we can confirm the food handling procedures were dangerous and did create a toxin in the noodles."
The DOH says noodles, and starchy food in particular, can grow bacteria if you leave it out too long and if it stays warm..
Waipahu's staff members routinely cook spaghetti noodles the day before, then put them in the refrigerator for the next morning.
Things went wrong when the food was taken out and put in a warmer at 120 degrees, not the mandatory 165 degree temperature that kills bacteria.
"I was just kind of shocked," said parent Gretchen Velasco. "My kids have been here a long time. I personally went to this school. So it's really shocking that happened."
"After the incident happened the first two, three days they brought home lunch," said Brenda Madeiros, another parent referring to her son who attends Waipahu Elementary.
For now the kitchen is closed. Food is being brought in from another school to be served out of the cafeteria at least until until winter break.
"We have our staff going through intensive training and procedures and what they need to do in the cafeteria," assured Waipahu Elementary Principal Gary Chun.
The DOH trained the school staff Monday.
Tuesday the staff continued going through extensive training.
Waipahu Elementary had prior citations for mishandling food
DOH: School was warned almost three months prior to food poisoning incidentUPDATED 9:07 PM HST Dec 17, 2013
The food poisoning outbreak at Waipahu Elementary school last week could have been prevented.Recommended