County ordered to clean up jail kitchen

The state has ordered Curry County to clean up its jail's kitchen or face serious sanctions.

Seven major violations were found in the kitchen by New Mexico Environment Department inspectors during the agency's annual on-site review of the kitchen May 23.

Frank Fiore, acting environmental health bureau chief, said flooding of the kitchen floor is a major concern because it presents a safety hazard to kitchen staff.

"A big-time safety hazard, I would say," said Fiore.

"People can slip and fall and hit their head on the side of the dishwasher or something else."

Inspectors scheduled a return visit for June 22. However, Fiore said the flooding issue is enough of a concern that he believes inspectors will likely return earlier than June 22 to ensure jail officials have fixed the problem.

"We definitely have some issues and challenges. We are addressing them as best we can," said County Commission Chairman Wendell Bostwick.

The major violations cited by state inspectors:

  • Bulk (food) storage bins next to the hand sink.
  • Walk-in freezer conduit leaking onto (food) product.
  • Dishwasher did not have sanitizer when tested.
  • Three-compartment sink did not have sanitizer when tested.
  • Water was flowing across working and walking areas and flooding dishwashing room floor. Food prep area floor is not in good repair.
  • Scoop stored in dry (food) product with handle in product.
  • Ready to eat food in the walk-in refrigerator…(was) not labeled and dated.
  • Hand washing sink was out of paper towels.

The jail was also cited for four moderate risk violations — dirty counters and storage bins — and two low risk violations.

Fiore said he expects most of the violations to be corrected by the June 22 inspection. If they are not, Fiore said the county could face sanctions ranging from red-tagging the jail kitchen to shutting it down, forcing the county to bring food to inmates from an approved outside source.

Fiore said red-tagging means the kitchen could remain open, but the inmates and public would be notified to avoid or use caution when consuming any food prepared by the staff.

Fiore also said other than flooding, inspectors were concerned about the deterioration of the kitchen floor.

Bostwick acknowledged the concrete floor was deteriorating after 20 years of being sanitized each day with chlorine bleach.

"We may not be able to fix that right now," Bostwick said.

Bostwick also noted food preparation is handled by an independent contractor — CBM Managed Services — and jail Administrator Gerry Billy is not satisfied with the company's performance. Bostwick said CBM executives will be in Clovis this week to address the issues that concern Billy.

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