MANSON — It was a tedious job.

For two years, food-service workers at the Manson School District have been pulling those tiny labels off apples before serving them.

They had to, a food inspector with the Chelan-Douglas Health District had said.

Turns out, they didn’t.

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“It’s frustrating,” said Ken Nelson, director of food-service operations for the school district. Removing the tags from 650 apples that were served a couple of times a week at the schools took a lot of time, he said.

The food-service workers had gotten bad advice.

“Every so often we have someone doing inspections who goes a bit beyond actual requirements,” said Barry Kling, health-district administrator. “It wasn’t appropriate advice.”

Kling said he did not think the inspector gave the tag-removal advice to any other school districts.

The tag situation came to light about a month ago when a Manson food-service worker contacted Doug England, a health-district board member and Chelan County commissioner.

The food-service worker was hoping to find a quicker way to remove the tags.

England brought the subject up at the Feb. 28 health-board meeting and learned from Kling that removing the tags was not necessary.

“We suggest that people remove the label, but they don’t have to,” Kling said. “It’s not a major food-safety issue of any kind.”

The tags are used for brand and price information.

“It’s all food-grade material,” said Rick Goddard, senior vice president of sales for Sinclair Systems International, a local manufacturer of the widely used tags. “It’s inert so you’re not going to get any nutritional value out of it, but it’s not going to hurt you.”