Improving School Food Safety

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is recommending that the U.S. Department of Agriculture strengthen its oversight of food purchased through its commodity program for use in school meals.

The GAO noted that in the case of seven of the 180 foods—ground beef is one example—that schools can receive through the commodity program, the USDA has established specifications regarding microbial contamination that are more stringent than the federal regulations for the same foods sold in the commercial marketplace.

"However," the GAO states, "the program has not developed more stringent specifications for some pathogens and foods that have been associated with foodborne illness, such as raw, whole chickens cut into eight pieces."

The GAO is recommending that the USDA establish "a more systematic and transparent process."

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