Imagine you run the public school systems’ kitchens throughout a state and have the title Executive Director of School Kitchens.
You have a problem. The state legislature, the school board, and the public at large are expressing legitimate and serious concerns about whether your kitchens are providing safe food in sanitary conditions. Children have been complaining, and there are disturbing stories floating around about how your kitchens are run. Your kitchens are said to be doing things significantly differently than privately owned businesses’ kitchens, such as “cutting corners” when it comes to the safety of the food you serve to children.
Private businesses’ kitchens throughout the state have long been required to be certified to provide safe food in sanitary conditions. Until now, though, there has been no requirement you follow the rules everyone else in food service had to follow. The certification other kitchens must have ensures their practices and procedures produce safe food in sanitary conditions.
Getting certified requires a strict inspection from any of a number of reputable, longstanding, independent organizations. Kitchens have gotten to choose whichever one they wanted to use over the years. Those organizations have always been fairly uniform in how they certify kitchens. The methods they use have been generally accepted by the entire industry for years. The standards they use are the bare minimum tolerated for certification, but everyone is encouraged to exceed the minimum standard.
First, the manager of the kitchen to be inspected receives specific standards in advance about what the certification organization expects the kitchen to have ready by the time of inspection. Compliance with the standards is expected, of course.
Each organization has specific rules, procedures, and standards for what your staff does, how they are trained, what equipment you use, what supplies you use, and they make you keep routine records about your everyday activities.
Of course, doing everything required of any existing organization requires you to get your kitchens up to the same level of sanitation as all other kitchens.
After your kitchens get certified, inspectors could show up on short notice and inspect any aspect of your operation. You don’t get to have a say in what they inspect; it’s up to them. They grade your kitchens’ performance based on established procedures. The point of this practice is to make sure your kitchens operate up to standards at all times, of course.
Failing inspections could result in corrective sanctions, and repeated failures could lead to losing your certification, meaning those kitchens could not serve food.
So, after learning what it takes to meet normal standards, you realize it’s difficult. You decide to call the Executive Director of School Kitchens for other states, and you quickly learn you share similar problems, and all of you need certification.
You all agree on one point: meeting the standards required by the accrediting agencies would mean all your kitchens would have to make drastic, expensive changes. You might not be able to meet the standards at all.
Someone suggests forming a committee of Executive Directors of School Kitchens, so as to create a new certification organization just for school kitchens. The committee decides to put Executive Directors of School Kitchens in charge of the agency, and that new group sets up the rules to get certified.
Your group concludes the best thing to do is find out the minimum standards among school kitchens for every procedure they perform; those standards become your group’s standard. Your decisions ensure every school kitchen becomes accredited.
You have overcome the problem of initial certification, but your next worry is how to make sure you can pass inspections. Your group decides the best way to achieve this is to allow kitchens to self-report inspections most of the time. Occasionally, inspectors would be allowed to visit kitchens in person.
Long before inspectors are allowed in school kitchens, the inspectors let the kitchen managers know when inspections will occur. Less than 1% of the kitchen standards will be inspected, and the inspectors will not look at any other aspects of the kitchens.
For example, to ensure the standard requiring pots and pans to be cleaned properly before using them for cooking is met, the kitchen manager chooses three pots and/or pans from the kitchen to show to inspectors. The inspectors view the three pots and/or pans and decide whether to re-certify the kitchen. You discover every single kitchen passes these inspections.
Every single school kitchen in the country can now easily become certified and keep their certification. You and your peers proclaim success!
The details are slightly different, but crime labs throughout the United States became certified and continue to be re-certified using virtually the same process as the school kitchen hypothetical. Is it any wonder crime labs are riddled with scandals?
Google the terms “crime lab scandal” and “ASCLD” to see what a pathetic charade crime lab certification is.