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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced new standards for ground beef purchased for the school lunch program beginning in July 2010.
“We were outraged when we learned the ground beef safety standards used by national fast food chains have been much stronger than the standards used for the school lunch program,” said Melissa Cubria, TexPIRG Advocate. “Approximately half of all food borne illnesses occur in children.
“We applaud USDA Secretary Vilsack for taking strong action to improve the safety of ground beef purchased for the school lunch program. Thirty million kids participate in the school lunch program each day—they deserve the safest food possible.
“By raising the bar for ground beef served in schools and increasing the frequency of testing for contamination, USDA is taking some of the mystery out of the meat on the lunch tray. This is an important first step and we look forward to working with Congress and the Obama administration to continuing improving the safety of the food in school cafeterias.”
TexPIRG announced that the organization will next focus their advocacy on:
- Comparing these new beef safety standards against the soon-to-be-released recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences, and calling for strict science-based standards for other high-risk foods like poultry
- Working to give schools better tools to get unsafe food out of school lunches once it’s identified.
“From peanuts, to ground beef, to the romaine lettuce recall last week, right now it takes too long – up to a week in some cases – to get recalled food off of the lunch tray,” said Cubria. “We need better tracking and faster notification to help schools react more quickly.”
“We shouldn’t be buying low-grade, risky food for our kids, plain and simple,” added Cubria.
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