May 17th, 2010 by David Sommerstein
It's really unbelievable that the hamburger you eat at most any fast food chain is safer than the burger a child eats in the school cafeteria. Especially when you consider that young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of consuming harmful strains of E Coli.
The USDA is finally taking steps to change that. The government was prodded in no small part by a series of investigative reports by USA Today. Here's that paper's story on the USDA rule change:
The rules call for more stringent microbiological testing and say beef should be sampled every 15 minutes on production lines. Previously, ground beef bound for schools was sampled an average of eight times during an entire production day, and then those samples were combined and subjected to testing once a shift.
The rules make suppliers with "a long-term poor safety record" ineligible to sell to the school lunch program without a complete analysis of why their products failed inspections, says Michael Jarvis, a spokesman for the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, which purchases beef for the school lunch program. No currently eligible contractors would be ineligible under that requirement "if it were in effect," he says.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was an early champion of the new regulations. In a press release, she applauded the USDA:
In America, in 2010, it is unconscionable that food can ever go straight to our kitchens, school cafeterias and restaurants without being properly tested to ensure its safety. We need better food safety standards, not just in our schools, but across the board, to protect all of our families.
Now if only all ground beef could be safer. Another recall of 53,000 pounds of ground beef
Click HERE to read more from NCPR