Tuesday, December 22, 2009
School Lunches: Mystery Meat After All
An investigative story by USA Today reveals that the quality and safety standards for meat served in school lunches are less strict than the standards for fast food restaurants. In the past three years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided hundreds of millions of pounds of beef and chicken to public schools as part of the National School Lunch Program.
When USA Today reviewed bacteria tests in beef used in school lunches, the newspaper found that the USDA approved six shipments with bacteria levels most commercial buyers would have rejected.
The investigation also found that "thousands of tons" of chicken meat supplied to schools by the USDA was from old birds that would have gone to compost or pet food.
Called "spent hens" because they're past their egg-laying prime, the chickens don't pass muster with Colonel Sanders— KFC won't buy them — and they don't pass the soup test, either. The Campbell Soup Company says it stopped using them a decade ago based on "quality considerations."
(via USA Today)
You would think that the federal government would be more careful about what goes into the mouths of school children. But it turns out that when it comes to meat, McDonald’s, Burger King and Jack in the Box are far more cautious. Those fast food restaurants test their ground beef up to ten times more frequently than the USDA does for school-bound beef.
Still on a school lunch note, Oakland North took a look at how students in the Oakland Unified School District get their food. Oakland students may be getting yummy pasta dishes, but unfortunately their food is not freshly made. Elementary schools in Oakland aren’t using their kitchen to prepare lunches. In fact, only 26 out of 88 schools still prepare their school lunches on campus. The rest of the schools submit their orders to a local central kitchen in East Oakland to prepare meals for the whole week, but most of the food travels across the state before making it to Oakland.
According to Oakland North: A wheat field in North Dakota, a turkey ranch in the Central Valley, a tomato field somewhere south of Oregon and north of Mexico in California are the starting points for an Oakland student's meal.
Check out the video below to get a better understanding of how school lunches for Oakland students get prepared.