Round Lake High School's food service operation has failed three of five Lake County Health Department inspections since April, documents show.
Health department officials gave a passing grade for the most recent inspection Oct. 19, noting on a report all food that's supposed to be served cold was at a proper 41 degrees or below and ice blankets have been added to keep delicatessen items safe on a salad bar.
Round Lake Area Unit District 116 Superintendent Constance Collins said she only became aware of the violations on Oct. 26.
She said she planned to meet Tuesday with executives from Chartwells School Dining Services, which runs the high school cafeteria.
Collins said the issues she intended to raise at the meeting included not hearing from the company about the food service problems and insight on how it plans to prevent violations from occurring again. Collins said no students became ill from the food in question and she was satisfied the school passed the latest inspection.
"We are concerned about the health and safety of our children," she said.
No one at Chartwells' Round Lake High operation returned a message seeking comment.
Health department documents show Round Lake High failed a routine food service facility inspection April 16. Problems were found in cold food holding units as part of the failure, which cited repeated time and temperature violations.
Rather than registering 41 degrees or below, deli meat stored on ice was 60 degrees and cucumbers were 53 degrees, according to the report. Chicken nuggets taken from a walk-in cooler were 62 degrees prior to cooking.
In a follow-up inspection May 17, the high school food service failed again because critical violations still existed, a report states. Selections on ice that were considered too warm included salad, with some type of meat at 62 degrees and cheese at 46 degrees.
Another follow-up inspection of the high school food operation resulted in passing marks May 22. The report shows coleslaw, deli meat and chicken all came in at less than 41 degrees.
But the 2012-13 academic year's first routine inspection was a failure, health department documents show. On Aug. 30, critical violations were cited, such as chicken meant to be served cold registering 52 degrees instead of 41 or below.
All cold food was found to be 41 or chillier during the most recent health department inspection Oct. 19, and the salad bar ice blankets were in place.
Larry Mackey, deputy director of Lake County's population health services, said food that's supposed to be at 41 degrees or less is in danger of growing bacteria if it becomes too warm.
"That cold temperature really keeps the bacteria from growing," Mackey said.
Schools typically receive the highest food service inspection scores among facilities the health department visits, he said.
Collins said the failing food marks were particularly concerning because so many Round Lake High students who qualify for reduced-price breakfast and lunch eat there. She said the school meals often are the best food the teenagers receive on a given day.
About 67 percent of the high school's 1,945 pupils were classified as low income and qualified for the free or reduced-price meals in the 2010-11 academic year, the most recently available statistics show.