October 21, 2016

Omnibus Funding Bill Bans Chinese Chicken from School Lunches

The DeLauro-Pingree Amendment in the Omnibus spending bill that was just passed by Congress bans purchase of chicken raised in the United States and processed in China for school lunches. The bill was passed by the House last Thursday and the Senate on Saturday. Representative Rosa DeLauro said in a statement, "banning Chinese chicken from school meals is a common-sense step to protect our kids. China's food safety record is atrocious, yet last year USDA deemed poultry processed in China to be as safe as poultry processed here. Children are among the most susceptible to foodborne illness. We cannot take unnecessary risks with our health." Representative Pingree said, "Chinese chicken does not belong in school lunches. China has such serious food safety problems that even Chinese … [Read more...]

House Republicans Let Schools Opt Out of Nutrition Standards

On Thursday, May 29, 2014, the House Appropriations Committee voted to pass a USDA funding bill that contains a provision letting the nation's schools opt out of rules on nutrition standards. The program faces opposition from the PTA, USDA officials, and advocacy groups such as Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wooten said in a statement, "Congress should be a celebrating the excellent progress that school systems are making toward implementing the USDA's nutrition standards. But instead, House Republicsns are playing politics with what's on school lunch trays and children's health. By allowing school districts to opt out of school nutrition standards, House Republicans are opening up the floodgates to let all the old junk food back into … [Read more...]

Congress to USDA: No Chinese Chicken in School Lunches

Several members of Congress have sent a letter to ranking members of the Senator and House Committee on Appropriations and Agriculture, telling them that chicken processed in China and exported to the U.S. should not be served in school lunches. The letter was sent to Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Congressmen Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and Sam Farr (D-CA). Those members of Congress are concerned about the problem with food safety in China. They also believe  FSIS will eventually let China export raw chicken to the U.S. They are asking that language in the Fiscal Year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations Bill should ensure that Chinese-processed chicken will not be included in the National School Lunch Program and other federal food programs, and that no funds should be used … [Read more...]

Controversy Over Chinese Chicken in School Lunch Program

The USDA has responded to a controversy about serving processed chicken imported from China in the National School Lunch Program. A few days ago, Bettina Siegel of The Lunch Tray claimed that the USDA is misleading parents about whether those foods will be served to schoolchildren. A Q&A about China's poultry processing system equivalence on the FSIS website claims that chicken processed in China will not be included in school lunches, saying "the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service ensures that products included in school lunch programs are produced, raised, and processed only in the United States, its territories or possessions, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands." The problem is that school districts buy some of the food they … [Read more...]

USDA Proposes School Nutrition Standards for Snack Foods

Anyone who went to high school in the past 50 years undoubtedly knew about the "Snack Shack" or other dispensary that sold everything from sugary drinks to potato chips and beef jerky. The USDA has proposed nutrition standards that will mean all foods and beverages sold in schools must meet healthy nutrition standards. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls these foods "competitive foods". They "compete" with school meals and most are high in added sugars, fats, artificial ingredients, trans fats, and sodium. The Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools recommended by the Institute of Medicine divides these foods into tiers. In Tier 1, healthy foods are available for all students at all times of the day. In Tier 2, snack foods that meet nutritional requirements, such as … [Read more...]

USDA Is Updating School Lunch Rules to Allow More Grains, Meat

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote a letter to members of Congress last week, telling them that the USDA is revising school lunch rules. The new rules are removing calorie limits on grains and meats offered to children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) has been in effect since the beginning of this current school year. If a school meets the minimum serving requirements for grains and meats, they will be in compliance with the law, even if they exceed the maximum limits. Schools had been having difficulty working within the operational challenge of the minimum and maximum serving ranges. Vilsack wrote, "This flexibility is being provided to allow more time for the development of products that fit within the new standards while granting schools additional weekly menu … [Read more...]

USDA Awards Grants in Farm to School Project

The USDA announced today it is awarding more than $4.5 million in grants to connect school cafeterias with local agricultural producers. The "Farm to School" grants will help schools purchase locally sourced foods and will support eduction efforts such as field trips to farms, cooking classes, and school gardens. The 68 projects are in 37 states and the Districgt of Columbia. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said, "when schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities. Evidence also suggests that when kids understand more about where food comes from and how it is produced, they are more likely to make healthy eating choices." The grants serve more than 3,200 … [Read more...]

Does The Peanut Butter In Your Child’s School Lunch Contain Salmonella?

Peanut butter recalled for potential Salmonella contamination has landed on school lunch trays across the country and although children are among those most at risk for foodborne illness, parents nationwide have been left in the dark. If food served to your child at school is part of a recall, how would you know? Most likely you wouldn’t. Last week, 16 states that participate in the National School Lunch Program were told that some items they had received were among the hundreds of products containing peanut butter or nut products made by Sunland Inc. of Portales, NM, being recalled for potential Salmonella contamination, Food Poisoning Bulletin has learned. Those products include Smucker’s Uncrustables made by the J.M.Smucker Co. of Orrville, Ohio and peanut butter and jelly … [Read more...]

Smucker’s Uncrustables Made With Recalled Peanut Butter Served In National School Lunch Program

Smucker’s Uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, served to millions of students through the National School Lunch Program, are being recalled for possible Salmonella contamination, Food Poisoning Bulletin has learned. Certain varieties of the crustless, individually wrapped sandwiches sold in bulk boxes to school districts nationwide contain peanut butter made by Sunland Inc., a Portales, NM peanut butter maker whose recall, issued in late September, has grown to include more than 240 products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which operates the National School Lunch Program, issued a “food safety hold” on  the sandwiches last week after the J.M. Smucker Co. initiated a voluntary recall of the sandwiches. The recall has yet to be posted on the company’s website or on … [Read more...]

Tuna in School Lunches May Pose Danger to Children

The Mercury Policy Project has issued the first ever report on testing for mercury in tuna sold to the nation's schools. The report, titled "Tuna Surprise: Mercury in School Lunches", states that canned tuna is the largest source of methyl mercury in the U.S. diet and is a major source of mercury exposure for children." U.S. children eat twice as much tuna as they do of any fish or seafood. This high consumption rate, coupled with children's low body weights, can results in doses of mercury that exceed federal safety standards. No previous research has documented mercury levels in tuna served in schools. The Project bought 59 samples of canned tuna in 11 states around the country and tested them for mercury. The average mercury level in light tuna was 0.118 micrograms/gram, which was … [Read more...]

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