McDonald's meat better quality than your kid's school?

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The Consumerist/Flickr
Do fast food restaurants care more about your kids than the U.S. government? If the stringency of food testing is any measure, then the answer appears to be 'yes.' A USA Today investigation revealed this week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows millions of pounds of meat into to the nation's schools that would not pass muster by fast food chains like McDonald's or Burger King. For example, the article says:

For chicken, the USDA has supplied schools with thousands of tons of meat from old birds that might otherwise go to compost or pet food. Called "spent hens" because they're past their egg-laying prime, the chickens don't pass muster with Colonel Sanders-- KFC won't buy them -- and they don't pass the soup test, either. The Campbell Soup Company says it stopped using them a decade ago based on "quality considerations."

To be fair, the article notes, meat approved for use in the public school system must meat or exceed government standards. It's just that government standards have remained stagnant, while fast food chains have continued to advance according to USA Today.

There's reason to be alarmed though the article suggests. Childrens' immune systems are not developed and cafeterias may not be cooking meat thoroughly enough. The possibilities are ominous, the articles suggests.

USDA-purchased meat is donated to almost every school district in the country and served to 31 million students a day, 62% of whom qualify for free or reduced-price meals. President Obama noted earlier this year that, for many children, school lunches are "their most nutritious meal -- sometimes their only meal -- of the day."

And change is overdue, it concludes.


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