HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Students at seventeen schools were served out of date meat earlier this month, some of it dating back to 2009, and that is just part of what we learned at a public meeting Thursday night.
The Hawkins County Board of Education called the meeting after word got out that out of date meat was found in school freezers.
Hawkins County Commissioner Michael Herrell told us he got concerned after someone sent him this photo along with complaints about taste and smell.
Even after the meeting, parents we spoke to told me they’re still not sure how something like this could happen.
“I just hope that the school learned something more from this meeting than me that they have to stand accountable,” said Elizabeth Lowe.
Elizabeth Lowe was not the only concerned parent at the meeting, a room full of people showed up hoping to learn more about last weeks lunch.
“The first thing that we need to determine is what happened,” said Chris Christian.
Thursday evening, Hawkins County Board of Education Chairman Chris Christian lead the discussion, assuring parents they are looking for the facts.
“And the facts of the matter is, if we had meat in our freezers for 6 years and it was not inventoried – that is unacceptable,” said Christian.
- Comments on old meat served at Hawkins County schools on April 22 (.pdf)
- Cafeteria inspection scores at each Hawkins County school (.pdf)
- FDA guidelines for frozen food (.pdf)
Christian says he thinks out of date pork has never been a safety issue, only a quality issue.
“The concern here is is rotating our inventory appropriately, managing that inventory appropriately,” said Christian.
All but one of Hawkins County’s eighteen schools served the out of date frozen meat, according to an email sent from central office, shown to us by Commissioner Herrell Thursday evening.
Students like Olivia Ewing say its something she won’t soon forget.
“As soon as you tasted it, it was just as soon as you tasted it, me and a friend both, it was not good,” said Ewing.
The Cherokee High School student says it’s more than distasteful, it’s a distraction.
“Its the one issue that I think at our school that most of the kids at our school are concerned about is the food,” said Ewing.
Director of Schools, Steve Starnes promised change.
“[By] training for our staff to make sure they are food safe certified,” said Starnes.
“Our investigation needs to continue, in order to fix this problem we need to know how it happened,” said Christian.
A final report may be available by the next board meeting on May 7.
While students may have been grossed out by the expired meat, the director of schools says he’s not aware of any students who were made sick by it.
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