School Meal Programs: Few Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness Reported

RCED-00-53 Published: Feb 22, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 07, 2000.
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the safety of foods served in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, focusing on the extent: (1) of foodborne illness outbreaks related to meals served in schools; (2) to which Department of Agriculture (USDA)-donated foods in schools were removed, replaced, or disposed of because of the potential to cause foodborne illness; and (3) to which USDA has established procurement policies and procedures for ensuring the safety of foods it donates to the programs.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture To better ensure that donated food safety actions are documented and that school contract provisions help ensure the safety of foods purchased for the school lunch and school breakfast programs, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service, to expeditiously develop the proposed Food Distribution Division's food safety action database and provide information to state or local authorities on safety provisions that could be included in school food procurement contracts.
Closed – Implemented
The Food Safety and Nutrition Service has revised their food purchasing guidance manual for schools to include instructions on how safe food purchasing procedures can be integrated into every step of the procurement process.

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