Know what’s less safe for our nation’s children than fast-food? Their school lunch!

It’s hard to believe, but hamburgers from McDonald’s and Jack in the Box are safer than the meat that America’s 31 million children are offered at our nation’s schools.

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.

A recent investigation by USA Today found that the meat sold to U.S. school cafeterias faces less testing and lower safety standards than the meat that’s 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.

Tell Secretary Tom Vilsack that our children need immediate, emergency action to make sure that the food they eat each day is the safest possible!

The petition reads:

“I find it unacceptable and shocking that USDA standards for school lunch meat purchases do not even match that of the fast food industry’s standards. The risk is too great for any further delay in reform. We are sure you agree. We, the undersigned, request and demand that you immediately order the Agricultural Marketing Service to implement emergency measures to increase testing for pathogens. Within sixty days, the AMS should have in place standards and testing procedures that meet or exceed those of industry-leader Jack in the Box.”

Complete the following to sign the petition. You’ll receive periodic updates on offers and activism opportunities from CREDO and Food Democracy Now.


Read more here:

Why is the USDA paying Big Meat to feed our school children chicken that KFC won’t buy?