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Bloody Bagels Served in School Cafeteria Spark Concerns

Madison food service provider fired an employee after students purchased food that should not have been served.

MADISON, NJ -- At least two elementary school students who bought lunch from the Central Avenue School cafeteria two weeks ago purchased bagels that had a cafeteria employee's blood on them.

A co-president of the school's parent-teacher organization said the incident needs to be addressed by officials in writing so parents know exactly what happened.

Mark Vidovich, president of Pomptonian Food Service, the company that provides food services for the district, said during Tuesday's Madison Board of Education meeting an employee who was with the company for 14 years cut her hand while slicing bagels, continued working and never reported the accident to anyone, which violated sanitation training and common sense.

The employee was immediately fired, and Vidovich said she voluntarily agreed to a blood test when he told her parents were apprehensive.

While he still was waiting for forms to be sent allowing the blood test results to be shared directly with the Madison school district, he said in response to a question from a school board attorney that Pomptonian, after seeing the results Tuesday, would not be advising the district to take any action to notify parents about health concerns in light of anything in the results.

"I don't have any concerns, and I'm a very paranoid parent myself," Vidovich said, adding that he once went through a situation where someone agreed to have a blood test after there were concerns his son was exposed to blood.

Approximately 18 bagels were sold at Central Avenue School on Wednesday, Jan. 9, that could have been affected by the cutting incident, Vidovich said. Two students brought their bagels to the attention of adults in the lunchroom. Another 10 bagels that had not been served, which did not appear to have blood on them, were pulled from the cafeteria once it was determined what happened, Vidovich said. It was not known whether the other 16 bagels that were purchased had blood on them.

Vidovich said the former employee had a complete lapse in judgment and feels awful about what happened.

Central Avenue School PTO Co-President Jennifer Groller said more than a dozen parents met with Pomptonian staff on Tuesday. She credited the company with being "very forthright, very apologetic and they're very much wanting to fix this and fix our past issues."

Among the other issues, parents have been working with Pomptonian to ensure there are enough meals for students, and healthy options and healthy eating habits are encouraged.

Groller told the board Pomptonian or the district needs to spell out to parents what happened with the cutting incident and how it was and is being addressed, which Superintendent Dr. Michael Rossi said he could do.

She said addressing it in writing could prevent "urban legends" from spreading. Parents are finding out about what happened at different times, emailing her about their concerns in waves, and some are boycotting the cafeteria, she said.

Vidovich said the bagels come from Noah's Bagels and typically come pre-sliced, but they did not arrive sliced that day. The cafeteria has a bagel guillotine, but the employee did not use it, he said.

Trisha Lynn Dragon January 27, 2013 at 01:41 PM
While it's nice she had nothing that could have killed the little guys, this is a failure on multiple levels. Common sense not the least of them. She was fired, and as far as I am concerned that is 10000000% the correct action. You don't RISK that. Period. Inexcusable, unhygienic, and disgusting all at once.
Sean S. January 27, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Sean S. I'm surprised those kids in Madison had to wait in a line for food. Don't they have waiters and waitresses to bring them their meals. What is the world coming to? Poor little silver spoons.
Kim Macaulay January 27, 2013 at 05:20 PM
You are excusing and overlooking negligence because it happens everywhere? If you don't think safety and health concerns should be enforced to protect children, where DO you draw the line? When it's your child that contracts hepatitis? I can guarantee you that the fired employee, if she finds future employment as a food handler, will show reasonable care going forward as a result of being held accountable. A cavalier disregard for the welfare of others will quickly change when it hits your home.
been there done that January 28, 2013 at 03:20 AM
there's really nothing going on in Madison if this story generates this level of commentary....
Mike January 28, 2013 at 03:56 AM
First time she was *caught*. All she had to do was stop, report it, and everything's fine. But no, keep cutting.

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