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Food Safety and School Food on the Agenda

July 23, 2012
Plain English Version

Consumer groups are urging the federal government to issue new standards for safe food. The food safety law was passed in 2010 with both Republican and Democratic Party support.

The 2010 law gives the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) more control over food imports and new powers to set standards to prevent contamination of produce and processed food.

Food imports have more than tripled over the past decade, including about 80 percent of seafood. Today the F.D.A. inspects less than one pound in a million of imported foods.

Advocates say the Obama administration is not pushing the implementation of new rules because of concern that Republicans may see the rules as too much government. The F.D.A. says it takes a long time to review and publish new standards.

Advocates also say the delay could cost both money and lives during the summer when there is the most food contamination.

 New school food program is in effect

New nutrition standards for school meals going into effect this month include the following rules:

  • establish calorie and sodium limits for meals
  • require schools to serve larger portions of fruits and vegetables
  • require that all milk be 1 percent or nonfat
  • require whole grain foods to be phased in

Nutrition experts said the new regulations are good, as long as the school chefs still make the food taste good. Many school districts are working to prepare fresh foods, use local produce and improve the taste of the meals they serve.  Less fried foods will be served.

“Ten or 15 years ago, you would not have seen a salad bar, a fresh fruit and veggie bar, homemade pasta salads. You probably would not have seen homemade biscuits, or homemade hamburger buns, made with a white whole-wheat flour” said a school food director.

Some school food officials worried that less salt and more fruit and vegetables would result in more food waste.

The New York Times

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