MANCHESTER — The Valley Street jail will notify city health officials if more bugs are discovered in jail food in the future, jail and city health officials said Tuesday.
Phil Alexakos, the chief operating officer of the Manchester Health Department, said his inspectors performed a surprise inspection at the jail on June 5, the day the New Hampshire Union Leader contacted him to ask if inspectors had received complaints.
Rumors of a bug in food at the jail prompted inmates to refuse to eat the evening meal on June 2. Jail officials have said the bug was actually a burnt piece of meat.
Alexakos said city inspectors found no evidence of a pest infestation at the jail. He said inspectors reviewed jail records and saw that jail officials notified their pest service company twice over the last seven months when bugs were discovered in food stores.
One was an Indian meal moth larva in dried rice on Nov. 19; the other was a corn ear worm in frozen corn on April 29.
Alexakos said neither insect is poisonous. Jail Superintendent David Dionne has said the jail’s food contractor — the privately held Trinity Services Group — changed its food supplier after the complaint about the second bug.
Had the jail contacted the city health department in November and April, an investigation would have started and the FDA would have become involved if the source was from out of state, Alexakos said.
“We work up the chain,” Alexakos said. “We would want to make sure the processor was visited.”
Dionne said the jail will notify the city health department about any bug presence in the future.
Alexakos said the only other issue with bugs in the jail is fruit flies, for which the pest control service puts a foam insecticide in drains to prevent breeding.
“They have a very good record,” Alexakos said about the jail. Recent unannounced inspections of the kitchen and food service have found no critical violations. Such violations are a sign of possible food contamination, he said.
About 10 months ago, the Department of Corrections contracted with Trinity to provide all food and nutrition services. The company specializes in correctional institutions.
“We’ve moved on,” Dionne said of last week’s food problem.