Demanding Answers: More Contaminated Items Pulled From NYC School Lunch Menus

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There were new questions Thursday evening about the food served to students in New York City public schools.

Earlier this week, CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer uncovered photos of contaminated pizza and chicken tenders. On Thursday, CBS2 learned that a breakfast sandwich has also been removed from cafeteria menus.

Public school parent Israel Rodriguez could not help himself. He made sounds of disgust when CBS2’s Kramer showed him pictures of the latest item to be pulled from the menu at the city’s 1,800 school cafeterias.

The egg and cheese sandwiches have unappetizing green spots that appear to be mold.

It is food that no parents want their kids to eat.

“This is poison. This is bad,” said Rodriguez, of Chelsea. “This is uncalled for, because they should have people supervising wherever they make this stuff, and making sure that they are… you know, everything is secure.”

Sources told CBS2 that complaints about sandwich “discoloration” were made four times over a one-month period.

On Tuesday, when Kramer initially asked officials at the fortress-like Department of Education about the egg sandwiches, she was told that while “school staff identified items with quality control issues…, this is not a citywide issue.”

They apparently changed their minds on Thursday. Debbi Ascher, director of Supply Chain Management, sent out a memo saying, “Due to recent food quality complaints… this item should not be served.”

“Why so long?” Rodriguez said. “What happens if one of the children ate one of those and got really sick?”

And CBS2 has reported that other favorites have already been taken off the menu. Chicken was found to be contaminated with metal pieces and bones, and pizza appeared to have mold on it.

“That’s disastrous. I feel horrible about that. That’s like completely disgusting,” said Chelsea parent Esti Aquino. “That makes me feel terrible that my kid would eat something like that.”

“If that was in this school, then I’m going to have to go to a different school,” said Priscilla Aquino, a student at P.S. 11, “because I’m not eating that food if that happens.”

CBS2 also showed parent Monica Thornton of Chelsea pictures of food now on the do-not-serve list. Her response was, “That’s why we don’t go to public school.”

Kramer asked the Mayor’s office why the Department of Education waited to stop serving the egg sandwiches. A spokeswoman said the items found to have mold were at first simply discarded.

But on Thursday, they were taken off the menu for “quality assurance.” A spokeswoman for the department said the move was made “out of an “abundance of caution.”

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