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Food Safety and Chicken Served in the National School Lunch Program

In response to a recent report about chicken served in the National School Lunch Program, I wanted to provide some clarification.  Food safety is one of our highest priorities, and USDA is committed to ensuring that food served through the National School Lunch Program is both healthy and safe.

Schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program receive some of their foods through the USDA, and the rest is purchased on the commercial market.  USDA is only involved in the purchases that are made through our program, and all of the food provided through USDA is 100 percent domestically grown and produced.

When schools make their own purchases, the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act requires them to purchase domestically grown and processed foods, “to the maximum extent practicable.” Schools are allowed to consider a product domestic if it was processed in the United States, and over half of the ingredients are considered domestic.  Schools have the option, if they choose, to only purchase products that are 100 percent domestically grown and processed.

It is also important to know that all domestic and imported poultry must meet rigorous USDA standards before it can reach the public.  USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has a stringent inspection system in place, which includes increased inspections at port-of-entry and annual audits of China’s system for processed chicken.  For more information about the inspection of imported chicken, I recommend that you check out this blog post published yesterday by Al Almanza, the FSIS Administrator, on Ensuring Safety of Imported Processed Chicken from China.

8 Responses to “Food Safety and Chicken Served in the National School Lunch Program”

  1. Pam says:

    Why in the world would we allow chicken to be fed to our school children that was shipped to the US from China? Just pay the extra and go on, please.

  2. Bettina Elias Siegel says:

    I am the author of the “report” to which this blog posts responds. As my report revealed, and as you acknowledge above, schools may purchase food products which can contain up to 49% Chinese-processed chicken. Therefore, I must ask again why the FSIS website still says “no” in answer to the question, “”Will chicken processed in China be included in school lunches?” Until that answer is corrected, countless parents and other consumers will continue to be misled on this important issue.

  3. Rebecca [USDA Moderator] says:

    Bettina – Thanks for pointing out that the FSIS FAQ could be more clear. We’ve been working on an update which posted this a.m. You can find it here:

  4. J says:

    I am sorry the FDA, USDA…and all the others have Absolutely no credibility at all…. The fact that anyone listens to these people is insane….if you want to be and eat healthy do not under any circumstances listen to what these organizations say . They DO NOT have the peoples interest at heart..

  5. Kathryn says:

    I agree with J. These organizations are paid off by the corporations distributing the food. I DO NOT trust the USDA OR the FDA. Hell no, specially not with my life. We are what we eat!

  6. Teri Green says:

    Bettina; Thanks for the post. Food safety for our children should be our number one priority. USDA keep up the great work for our children.


  7. Terry S. Singeltary Sr. says:


    Saturday, September 21, 2013

    Westland/Hallmark: 2008 Beef Recall A Case Study by The Food Industry Center January 2010 THE FLIM-FLAM REPORT


  8. Is it legal to be giving leftovers from school lunch away to take home and reuse as leftovers for cold lunch.

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