Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mystery meat in the school lunch program?

You bet it was, and is. Apparently, most fast food chains and upscale markets are far more picky about what kind of meats they use than the USDA School Lunch program. So if you wondered whether you were eating "strawberry tart without so much rat in it" in 5th grade, well yes, absolutely.

My favorite part is the fact that even Campbell's soup would not accept certain chickens being served at school cafeterias; given that the classic use of an old hen is in soup, it says a lot when a soup-maker won't use them, but the school lunch program will.


Gino said...

those old hens are likely perfectly fine for whatever campbells soup needs.

campbells is playing a safety game here. the more documentation they can show on safety, the higher standards they can show,etc...
is all going to help protect them in court when they get sued, frivolously or not.

they are doing what everybody is doing, from doctors to farmers to food servers: D ing up.

i see it all the time at work. uneccessary, totally un necessary and redundant policies all geared toward a proponderance of documentation.

pentamom said...

What Gino said. Unless food-related illness from school lunches is rampant, and I'm pretty sure it's not, what we're talking about is not low standards for schools, but high standards for commercial producers, who have both a PR and a competitive reason to go "above and beyond" what's necessary for nutrition and safety. My kids think the nuggets at school are just fine.

Night Writer said...

The fast food and soup companies have to be concerned with quality because they have competitors and because they ultimately will be accountable to the marketplace if they have a food-poisoning incident (the large fines and lawsuits are dwarfed by the impact on brand).

Competition and accountability are not what I think of when I look at public schools; why should they hesitate to push garbage in the cafeteria when they're already doing the same thing in the classroom?

Bike Bubba said...

Perhaps Chez Mac is being overly strict, but I'm sure they remember the fiasco when the school lunch program was caught using "downer" cattle (animals that could not walk at the slaughterhouse), and I'm guessing that they're not terribly keen on repeating the repeated ground beef fiascos that have plagued the industry, either.

(and if pentamom's kids think their lunches are just fine...well...they're doing better than the "Real italian Pizza" I remember from my school days....that stuff was an ethnic slur!)

Come to think of it, if they want to have tighter regulations, why not for ALL abbatoirs, not just for those serving up mystery meat? Seems to me that most of the problems--at least with beef--would be solved with a simple rule of "don't start, or continue, butchering without washing the animal/carcass."

pentamom said...

Hey, I said they think the NUGGETS are fine. You should hear what they say about other things. ;-)

The abbatoirs probably DO have all those regulations, but customers having their own standards is also necessary. That is, they might be tempted to violate them if their customers weren't giving them an incentive not to, abbatoir operators being human beans and all. Isn't that the way most business to business relationships work? Sure, a decent and responsible vendor will produce a quality product, but the customer still inspects stuff on the way in, still has standards for the vendors they use, etc.

Well, yeah, McD's et al are not keen on repeating the fiascos. But remember -- those fiascos WEREN'T at the schools. So whatever the value of McD's standards, I think it's hard to make the argument that the relatively lower standards that the schools use are a threat to the kids, if in fact there have been no public health problems historically associated with the way the standards have been applied, for schools all over the country, for years and years and years.

That is to say, you don't have to admire the practices of school lunch programs to understand that they're not exposing our kids to a dangerous level of foodborne pathogens, if the evidence is that the kids aren't exposed to a dangerous level of foodborne pathogens.

Bike Bubba said...

Actually, the downer cattle was for the school lunch program....nobody got hurt, thankfully, but.....