TV-6 Investigates: High School Concession Stand Health Inspectio - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

TV-6 Investigates: High School Concession Stand Health Inspections

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Part of the experience of a high school football game is biting into that juicy pork chop from the concession stand.

You may be biting into more than you bargained for though, if the chop makes you sick.

High school concession stands are one of the groups falling into a gray area when it comes to health inspections.

TV-6 has been digging into the health records.

The reports reveal some food safety issues.

Mouse droppings, old food, and missing thermometers. These are all things TV-6 found in those concession stand health inspections.

Whose minding the kitchen though depends on where you're buying your pork chop sandwich.

The stand may not be inspected at all.

"I'm kind of a big guy, went to a meeting, they were talking about concession food, I said you know, why don't we have some kind of grown up food," says Bettendorf Fine Arts Booster Jim Ash.

He grills steaks and chicken at home football games. His stand is one of three the boosters run and his sales have grown from 300 sandwiches a night eight seasons ago.

"We thought that was kind of a big night with five guys, now we run 12 to 14 on a big night we'll do 1,200 sandwiches and run two shifts of ten," says Ash.

Under Iowa law, Ash does not need a license to cook meat and serve it to the public. He's never been inspected and the Scott County Health Department told him no license is needed.

"There are school concession stands that don't get looked at," asked TV-6.

"That is true," says Public Information Officer Jackie Hall.

She says inspectors will look at stands run by the school districts, but the majority are run by volunteers. Iowa law allows non-profit groups to sell food once a week without an inspection. Even though much of the food served has gotten more complicated.

"It has kind of come a long way, from when it was just packaged candy, or packaged chips, or canned pop that sort of thing," says Hall.

More cooking means more scrutiny is needed. Inspectors look for running water, pests, and whether cooked food is stored correctly.

"No matter the facilities there still has to be basic knowledge of handling practices," says Rock Island County Environmental Health Director Paul Guse.

TV-6 looked over several years worth of Rock Island County health records. The boosters generally do pretty well, Rock Island High School's group scored a 99 out of 100 two weeks ago. It lost a point for a damaged counter top. Riverdale and United Township boosters were marked down for missing thermometers.

More serious issues also crop up. In January an inspector found mouse droppings in the Rockridge High School basketball concession stand. The boosters referred us to the school Athletic Director Scott Daley, who received the report the day it was written.

"That evening we let our maintenance individual know about it, we did a full clean and sanitize of the stands, and then we put some traps down and we were able to take care of it," says Daley.

He says the school has mouse issues. It's a fact of where it's located.

"We live in a rural area, where there are farms and mice typically get into different areas, we do battle it," says Daley.

Sherrard's January inspection found mouse droppings on the floor and previously prepared barbecue left in the fridge, two months out of date.

The Sherrard Boosters sent us a letter saying they work throughout the season to keep the concessions clean. Each year before opening Sherrard booster members spend a day sanitizing the entire stand.

Guse says the booster groups do a good job for volunteers, but his inspectors jobs are to get them to the next level.

"You're not working out of your own house, things that if you were having a cookout, in your own backyard with family and friends, some of those habits or activities cannot be done in a regulated food service," says Guse.

Habits the boosters say they don't follow, whether they're inspected or not.

"I feel that we would pass inspection and soundly, it's important to us," says Ash.

Neither state requires these groups to undergo any training before serving food to the public.

Although both states do offer food handling programs.

Both the Rock Island and Scott County Health Departments can't recall a complaint ever being filed against a high school concession stand.

TV-6's questions have led Scott County to ask the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals to clarify its rules on concession stands.

We'll follow up on what the state tells the inspectors.

You can find Iowa health inspections here. There is no centralized database in Illinois.

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