Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

School-Related Food Poisonings Rising 10 Percent Annually. (EH Update)

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

School-Related Food Poisonings Rising 10 Percent Annually. (EH Update)

Article excerpt

According to a study conducted by the congressional General Accounting Office (GAO), food poisonings in the nation's schools are increasing by about 10 percent a year. The study concludes that the federal government should disclose its inspection records for food plants to the state and local agencies that buy food for schools.

Among outbreaks with a known cause, most were linked to Salmonella bacteria and Norwalk-like viruses. Outbreaks have been traced to a variety of products, from strawberries to hamburgers. Last year, burritos produced in Chicago are believed to have sickened 1,200 children nationwide. In 1997, more than 300 children in five states became ill after eating strawberries harvested in Mexico and processed in California. In 1999, the latest year for which data are available, 50 school-related outbreaks were reported nationwide, with 2,900 illnesses. Officials don't know how many outbreaks were caused by lunches served in cafeterias as opposed to food children brought from home, but it is believed that school-provided meals were the culprit in a majority of cases.

The government has put price above safety in purchasing foods, and that has "resulted in school lunches becoming a dumping ground for ground beef and other agricultural products of questionable safety," Cheryl Roberts of Comer, Georgia, said in testimony prepared for a congressional hearing. …

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