US: Oops. They’ve done it again….and again
Posted: February 23rd, 2010 - 1:33pm
(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)
When the USDA announced they were not going to act on AMI's petition to allow low dose, whole carcass irradiation to be used as a processing aid because processing aids were under close scrutiny right now (because of a NY Times article on ammonia treated beef) I questioned if making policy decisions based on media stories was how it should be done.
Now we have announcements coming out that the USDA will overhaul the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and begin increased testing for pathogens and has even asked the NAS to review the NSLP's ground beef purchasing program. This announcement followed by a very few days a story in the USA Today that stated national fast food restaurant chains had higher purchasing specs than the NSLP. To quote Elizabeth Weise from USA Today in an interview on Meatingplace.com, "I was astounded they moved that quickly. I was impressed." Oops there they've done it again.
Secretary Vilsack was quoted as saying: "Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our nation's school children." Would that protection only apply to the noon meal?
What has not been elaborated upon in all this fuss are two very important points.
First is that the NSLP ground beef is already under enhanced inspection and scrutiny compared to the ground beef supplied to the retailers where you and I buy this product
Second, while 15% of ground beef is purchased by the NSLP, most of that product, according to my AMS source, is pre-cooked under commercial specs. The final validated lethality step in place for the NSLP is not in place at home. Therefore, the possibility of "our nation's school children" contracting a food borne illness from eating ground beef in school is already greatly reduced from their risk of contracting a food borne illness from eating ground beef at home, at church, at a fund raiser, or even at Grandma's house.
Mr. Secretary, why is protecting kids ages 5-18 from a bad school lunch more important than protecting me and my 2 year old Grandchild when we eat at home?