A Friday visit to the atrium turned up a discovery of poultry gone a’fowl: a bag of pre-cooked frozen chicken wings sat on a plastic cart next to an overflowing trash can. There it sat for 5, 10, 15, and ultimately 25 minutes until it was grabbed by an employee and put into what we assume is a fridge located under the main cooking area. The chicken may have been sitting there for longer. A local health inspector says the case is not cut and dry on whether it constitutes a violation.
“It’s hard to say,” if it violates health code standards says Phil Wyman, an inspector with the Seattle branch of Environmental Health Services. “It takes time for things to go wrong,” Wyman says of the chicken. “It may have been okay if it was during the active preparation.” He notes the state has 3 approved methods for thawing out frozen food: microwave, under cold water, and in a refrigerator. The guidelines which Wyman explained are codified below.
None of these processes were clearly apparent. According to the Washington State Department of Health the “danger zone” for food is between 41 and 140 degrees. This is a hard metric to decipher as the weight of the chicken, time, and temperature are only but a few factors that can land you in the danger zone. The potential violation left one school official taken aback.
Jeff Keever tells NCC the Health Department does inspections about “twice annually” on campus. Keever currently oversees Auxiliary Services which includes food services. Keever will be talking with food services to investigate the issue, emphasizing he takes food safety very seriously. This is the first New City Collegian has seen of any potential food safety hazards and we eat regularly on campus, generally with no side-effects except empty calories.