"It Appeared To Be A Small Rodent": Principal

By: Allison Hunt
By: Allison Hunt

Oak Ridge, Tenn. (WVLT) - Three and four year olds are usually told to "eat their vegetables", but kids at Oak Ridge Pre-school were told something different.

"My little grandson just said they wouldn't let him have the green beans cause they were bad," says Gary Cox.

Bad, because there was something in them that shouldn't be.

"It appeared to be a small rodent," says, Dr. Marian Phillips, Principal of Oak Ridge Pre-School.

An assistant discovered the 'object' while passing out lunch. All of the cooked and canned beans were immediately taken from the rooms and shelves, however, half of the 206 students had already started eating. Dr. Thomas Bailey, Superintendent of Oak Ridge Schools says the food is prepared properly, so bacteria may have been killed.

"This was cooked twice at 165 then it also goes into our steamer here that goes to 181 degrees."

Kids were not told about the rodent, but phone calls were made to parents informing them of the situation.

"Our parents were super, they understood, they appreciated the fact that we had taken all of the steps we had taken and appreciated being notified and were extremely supportive," says Dr. Phillips.

One of those parents, Jessica says "They were quick with finding it and it wasn't like, or they didn't try to hide it or anything so they let everyone know what was going on."

Dr. Bailey is confident their staff follows all rules and regulations.

"Our health departments, inspections of our schools, of our restaurants, of all of our facilities try to do the right thing in making sure that all of our situations are healthy and so forth and I have no doubt that ours are compatible to anyone."

So how do school districts prevent this from happening? Knox county says they use reputable food suppliers and use pest control. Blount county schools also sprays on a regular basis, and food there is prepared in the cafeterias by trained individuals.

Oak Ridge Preschool has their food brought in from Oak Ridge High School where it is prepared.

Aramark, the food service provider said in a statement, "We are working with our supplier to have the object tested. Once the object is identified, we will notify the district."


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