March 16, 2023
We are writing to inform you of an unfortunate incident this week regarding fruit cups in our cafeterias. The district has pulled all fruit cups related to this matter from cafeterias after worm-like insects were discovered by students in four cups on Wednesday.
Nearly 6,000 pre-packaged fruit cups were recently delivered to the school district from Tabatchnick Fine Foods, Inc. in Somerset, New Jersey. The district has filed a complaint with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which will forward the complaint to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Garrick Howell, a branch manager in the food distribution division of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, said another Kentucky school district, Ashland Independent, this week filed a complaint regarding the same issue. Howell said it is not uncommon for insects or worms to be found in strawberry or mixed berry fruit cups, adding they do not pose a health risk.
“This is an unfortunate occurrence,” Howell said. “It is commercially impossible to remove 100% of insect-damaged products from the production of many kinds of fruits. Our vendors are receptive to receiving feedback as it helps with monitoring of berry providers, crop and lab protocols and overall effective crop production methods.’’
Taryn Stewart, the director of Nutrition Services for Covington Schools, said the incident was not caused by sanitation issues in the district cafeterias as the pre-packaged fruit cups were already sealed when delivered. Stewart ordered all the fruit cups removed as soon as the findings were reported. She said they will be thrown out.
“Our students deserve the best meals of the highest quality,’’ Stewart said, adding that the district will continue to work toward resolving the incident with the USDA and Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
While we know this may be unsettling to parents and students, we believe it is in everyone’s best interest to share this information. We also want you to know that we acted swiftly and are doing our due diligence to get this matter resolved. Should you have questions or concerns, please contact Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org, 859-392-1028.
Alvin L. Garrison
Covington Independent Public Schools