Roach found in Papa John's pizza during end-of-year school party

Location has been on Dirty Dining list before

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. - A student made a disgusting discovery at an end-of-the-year pizza party in a South Florida kindergarten class.

"One kid noticed something in his pizza," kindergarten teacher Yolanda Taylor told Local 10 News. "He said (it was) a hair."

But that hair was no hair at all.

"When we did unfold the cheese it was a roach," Taylor said. "It was under the cheese."

The incident happened at a pizza party at Rainbow Park Elementary School in Opa-locka.

It was a celebration that was immediately halted.

"Did they tell you to stop eating the pizza?" Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier asked the student who found the roach.

"Yes," the boy said.

Taylor said the six pizzas were ordered from a Papa John's at 13300 NW 27th Ave.

"The school is clean as can be, and for someone to receive something from the outside that was not clean was intolerable," Taylor said.

Taylor said Papa John's was "unapologetic."

"They were trying to give us a refund on two pizzas, and we bought six," she said.

Weinsier went to Papa John's to ask about the roach in the pizza. An employee covered his face with a pizza box and denied that the incident took place before a manager came outside to speak with Weinsier.

"How does that happen?" Weinsier asked.

"I cannot discuss anything at the moment," the manager told him.

"When can you discuss it?" Weinsier asked. "This place was shut down before. We were here for a rodent issue in 2014. Is this acceptable?"

In July 2014, the state found 20 violations at that Papa John's location, including rodent issues, and ordered it shut. So far this year, there have been no inspections there.

Weinsier asked the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation why.

Jess Boyd, a spokeswoman for the state agency, said the Papa John's in question is classified as a level-one risk, requiring a minimum of one inspection per fiscal year. She said the location had only one disciplinary case during the last two annual cycles and doesn't meet the qualifications for a more severe level-three classification. Boyd said there had been no prior complaints this fiscal year.

A customer who was waiting for her food had no idea about the roach in the pizza or the inspection history.

"You just ordered some pizza?" Weinsier asked.

"Yes, sir, and I just got my money back, too," the customer said. "That is ridiculous. That is gross. I told them to get their manager to clean it up because I won't be back."

Papa John's issued a statement about the incident late Friday afternoon.

"Food safety is of the utmost important to Papa John's," the statement said. "We sincerely regret the incident and are currently investigating it with the franchisee location involved."

Papa John's said the franchise owner of 31 stores in the Miami area was immediately on-site to address the issue. The owner apologized to the customer and offered a full refund.

The location received a "pass" rating on its last health inspection report, and an emergency state inspection Friday afternoon resulted in the same rating, Papa John's said.

Papa John's also conducted an inspection April 30, giving the location an "A" rating. Papa John's said it will conduct a follow-up inspection within 24 hours.

Although the pizza provided for the party was returned, the party didn't end. Taylor and the students simply ordered roach-free pizzas from somewhere else.

Follow Jeff Weinsier on Twitter @jweinsier

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