Fussy moms who worry about what Junior may be eating in the school cafeteria might be better off sending him to school with a can of dog food. A recent investigation of the school lunch program by USA Today revealed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is supplying schools with thousands of tons of meat from old chickens that might otherwise go to the compost pile or to pet food producers. The “spent hen” meat, which is tough and stringy, is finding its way into chicken patties and salads on U.S. school menus.
The Campbell’s Soup Company stopped using this low-grade meat in its products more than a decade ago. The reason? Poor quality.
The story also praised fast food eateries such as McDonald’s and Burger King for their stringent controls over the meat they purchase for their food products. Apparently, they test their meat five to ten times more often than the USDA tests the meat that is shipped off for school lunches. A fast food burger is like filet mignon compared to what many kids are eating in the public school cafeterias.
Officials with the Agricultural Marketing Service, the USDA agency that is in charge of purchasing meat for the school lunch program, insist that schools get top-notch products.
Maybe for dogs?
Next year, Congress is slated to revisit the Child Nutrition Act, which governs the school lunch program. In the meantime, parents should consider brown-bagging their kids’ lunches … or sending them off with a can of Alpo.
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