The Sequatchie County Health Department is reportedly investigating after a photo of raw chicken served at the cafeteria at Sequatchie County High School (SCHS) on Thursday was reported.
Sequatchie County Director of Schools, Pete Swafford called this an "isolated incident." He tells Channel 3 after the raw chicken was discovered, students got new plates of food.
The chicken was prepared by cooks who were hired by Sequatchie County Schools.
"All of the students were not served. We think this came from one isolated batch of chicken that was cooked," Swafford said. "Each batch of meat that's cooked is checked for temperature. It was checked. Obviously not every piece was checked."
He says the high school cafeteria serves about 600 students, within four lunch periods every day. He also said he is not aware of any students getting sick from eating the raw chicken.
Amanda Goodhard, the regional health department spokeswoman, tells Channel 3 officials investigated the matter at the school on Friday. She also said corrective action is being taken by the school's cafeteria staff. The health inspector also discussed cooking temperatures and food safety with the cafeteria manager.
Lowe Wilkins, a Program Manager with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department said school cafeteria staff are required by the state health department to check all meat that is cooked. He says pre-cooked meat provided by schools must be cooked to 165 degrees.
"Our responsibility as inspectors is to verify temperatures and cooking processes that are correctly done during our inspection. A lot of times in schools they get things pre-cooked. They don't cook things raw.. so most things coming in like chicken nuggets or chicken strips they come in pre-cooked," Wilkins said. "So having things that are probably under cooked normally does not happen."
Wilkins said all Tennessee school cafeteria's are also required to have a step by step cooking plan to ensure food is being cooked properly.
After this incident, Swafford said he is confident it will not happen again, but is urging students to speak up if they notice something is not right.
"We made a mistake. It was obvious, and we corrected it immediately. We've talked to our cooks about it. They're very sorry it happened, but we dealt with it," Swafford said. "If it happens again somewhere along the line, we would expect the student to point it out to us so that we can correct it going forward."
If a school does not meet requirements during an inspection, Wilkins said the school will have have to correct the problem during the inspection or within 10 days after.
The department's last inspection of the school's cafeteria was on September 16th, and it received a perfect score.
Read the September inspection report below:
Stay with WRCB and WRCBTV for updates to this developing story.