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Possibility Of E. Coli In School Lunches

Mon, 11/09/2009 - 4:49am
Libby Quaid, AP

The chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee wants an investigation into the risk of E. coli getting into school lunches. Rep. George Miller, (D-CA) is worried about a recent outbreak that killed at least two people and sickened about two dozen others in 11 states. The E. coli outbreak was linked to ground beef produced by Fairbank Farms of Ashville, NY.

No schools were involved in the outbreak, but Miller said he's worried that tainted food might be purchased for school meal programs. He asked the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to see whether there are adequate protections for school meals at the local, state and federal level. He also asked investigators to compare the safety and quality of ground beef available to schools with the ground beef available to restaurants and other commercial buyers.

The GAO said in a September report that federal authorities had failed to tell schools about recalls of potentially tainted peanut products and canned vegetables, and cafeterias may have unknowingly served them to children. A GAO investigation found the Agriculture Department didn't always make sure states and schools were notified promptly about recalled food distributed through the federal school lunch and breakfast programs, which serve 30 million students.

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