Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced several new initiatives to assure the safety and quality of food purchased by USDA for the National School Lunch Program and other food and nutrition assistance programs. Vilsack says nothing is more important than the health and well-being of the Nation's school children. This announcement demonstrates the commitment to constantly improving the safety and quality of foods purchased by USDA.
Much of the focus is on vendor requirements and capabilities. According to USDA, the Agricultural Marketing Service will implement new food safety purchasing requirements for its beef suppliers, continuing its zero tolerance for Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7. In addition, AMS has asked the National Academy of Sciences to review the ground beef purchasing program, including benchmarking AMS vendor requirements against recognized industry leading programs that supply product directly to consumers.
Also the FNS will review and evaluate methods currently being used by state agencies to communicate with schools and school districts regarding product recalls. FNS will also establish a Center of Excellence devoted to research on school food safety issues in FNS child nutrition programs.