It’s hard to believe, but the USDA uses school lunch funds to help Big Meat offload thousands of tons of meat from old chickens that Kentucky Fried Chicken won’t buy and usually goes to compost or pet food.
Each year the USDA buys some 100 million pounds of beef for America’s school lunch program – but the USDA refuses to adopt common-sense practices to ensure that meat served to our children is safe. This is a big giveaway to major meat processors who then can unload products that even fast food chains won’t buy..
That’s why we’re joining with our friends at Credo Mobile to help make a difference.
A recent investigation by USA Today1 found that the meat sold to U.S. school cafeterias faces less testing and lower safety standards than the meat served in most fast-food restaurants — outlets that aren’t
otherwise known for their health consciousness and are as
cost-conscious as the most passionate deficit hawk.
That’s right: McDonalds, KFC, and Jack in the Box test the ground
beef they buy five to 10 times more frequently than the USDA tests beef
for U.S. school lunches! And these restaurants have for years
refused to buy certain kinds of lower-quality meat and chicken which
the USDA continues to accept.
In response to the USA Today expose, Rayne Pegg, head of the
Agricultural Marketing Services, the USDA agency responsible for school
lunch meat purchases, claimed that the AMS tests of school lunch meat
“exceed” those required for meat sold to the general public.
Despite Pegg’s assurances, leading experts agree that the USDA’s
standards are too lax. Even the USDA used to agree! As far back as
2000, the Agriculture Secretary under Bill Clinton took action to
rectify this unacceptable policy. Then the Bush administration took
office and Big Meat (AKA the meat industry) killed any hope of reform. Until now.
Admirably, current Secretary Tom Vilsack has agreed to “an independent
review” of USDA safety standards for school lunch meat. But that is not
nearly enough. With tens of millions of pounds of contaminated meat
recalled over the past two years, it’s only a matter of time before
these low standards lead to a school cafeteria outbreak and sickened
children. The possibility is unacceptable.
Thanks for all you do!
1 Fast-food Standards for Meat Top Those Set for School Lunches, USA Today, December 9, 2009