MADISON, NJ -- At least two elementary school students who bought lunch from the Central Avenue School cafeteria two weeks ago purchased bagels that had a cafeteria employee's blood on them.
A co-president of the school's parent-teacher organization said the incident needs to be addressed by officials in writing so parents know exactly what happened.
Mark Vidovich, president of Pomptonian Food Service, the company that provides food services for the district, said during Tuesday's Madison Board of Education meeting an employee who was with the company for 14 years cut her hand while slicing bagels, continued working and never reported the accident to anyone, which violated sanitation training and common sense.
The employee was immediately fired, and Vidovich said she voluntarily agreed to a blood test when he told her parents were apprehensive.
While he still was waiting for forms to be sent allowing the blood test results to be shared directly with the Madison school district, he said in response to a question from a school board attorney that Pomptonian, after seeing the results Tuesday, would not be advising the district to take any action to notify parents about health concerns in light of anything in the results.
"I don't have any concerns, and I'm a very paranoid parent myself," Vidovich said, adding that he once went through a situation where someone agreed to have a blood test after there were concerns his son was exposed to blood.
Approximately 18 bagels were sold at Central Avenue School on Wednesday, Jan. 9, that could have been affected by the cutting incident, Vidovich said. Two students brought their bagels to the attention of adults in the lunchroom. Another 10 bagels that had not been served, which did not appear to have blood on them, were pulled from the cafeteria once it was determined what happened, Vidovich said. It was not known whether the other 16 bagels that were purchased had blood on them.
Vidovich said the former employee had a complete lapse in judgment and feels awful about what happened.
Central Avenue School PTO Co-President Jennifer Groller said more than a dozen parents met with Pomptonian staff on Tuesday. She credited the company with being "very forthright, very apologetic and they're very much wanting to fix this and fix our past issues."
Among the other issues, parents have been working with Pomptonian to ensure there are enough meals for students, and healthy options and healthy eating habits are encouraged.
Groller told the board Pomptonian or the district needs to spell out to parents what happened with the cutting incident and how it was and is being addressed, which Superintendent Dr. Michael Rossi said he could do.
She said addressing it in writing could prevent "urban legends" from spreading. Parents are finding out about what happened at different times, emailing her about their concerns in waves, and some are boycotting the cafeteria, she said.
Vidovich said the bagels come from Noah's Bagels and typically come pre-sliced, but they did not arrive sliced that day. The cafeteria has a bagel guillotine, but the employee did not use it, he said.