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Full Disclosure: Changes to Poultry Inspections Needed to Protect Public Health

Cross posted from Food Safety News:

For the past 15 years, USDA conducted a pilot project to inform how we modernize our inspection process – all to ensure that meat and poultry is safe to eat. Today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), released a report on the project, known as the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), and how FSIS has relied on it to propose a modernized approach to inspecting poultry.

While an initial scan of the press coverage may lead you to believe that GAO discredits this proposal, that is not the case. GAO gave HIMP a thorough review and made just two recommendations, both of which FSIS is already working to fulfill.

GAO chose not to include some facts that also deserve public disclosure. FSIS put forward this proposal because data shows that a system like HIMP will prevent at least 5,000 more foodborne illnesses annually. The study that FSIS has conducted of HIMP provides an appropriate basis on which to judge the merits of this system. Approximately 10 years ago, FSIS asked an independent group of experts in poultry microbiology, statistical evaluation, poultry food safety and public health to evaluate our study. Read more »

Schools Around the Country Successfully Implementing New Meal Standards

Today a news report claimed that schools across the country are dropping out of the National School Lunch Program because the standards are too difficult to implement.

The truth is that the vast majority of schools across the country are meeting the updated meal standards successfully, which is so important to help all our Nations children lead healthier lives. Even before the new standards took effect and more resources were available, many schools across the country were leading the way with healthier options and appropriate portion sizes. In fact, schools that adopted the changes earlier report that participation increased as students and parents became accustomed to the healthier options. USDA continues to provide additional flexibility and technical assistance to schools as they all now work to offer healthier meals. We also encourage the very few eligible school districts that have chosen not to participate in the program to take steps to ensure all children will still have access to healthy, affordable meals during the school day. Read more »

What Does It Cost to Raise a Child?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s  (USDA) annual report on the Expenditures on Children by Families has found that a middle-income family with a child born in 2012 can expect to spend about $241,080 for food, shelter, and other necessities associated with child rearing expenses over the next 17 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual report on the Expenditures on Children by Families has found that a middle-income family with a child born in 2012 can expect to spend about $241,080 for food, shelter, and other necessities associated with child rearing expenses over the next 17 years.

How much will that little bundle of joy cost? According to USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child report, the answer for a child born in 2012 is $241,080 for food, shelter and other necessities over the next 17 years, which translates to about $301,970 when adjusted for inflation!

Speaking as a father and a grandfather, I know how much we as parents want to give our children the tools they need to excel at anything they set their minds to—from the essentials, like a roof over their heads and a quality education, to the fun stuff, like a brand new soccer ball, piano lessons or a trip to summer camp. We work hard to ensure our children’s future happiness and success each and every day. Read more »

Ready, Set, Learn: USDA Lessons for Our Nation’s Next Generation

Photo Courtesy of Arlington Public Schools.

In honor of back to school week, USDA offers an array of youth-focused curriculum and learning resources. Photo Courtesy of Arlington Public Schools.

It’s that time of year! Back to school season is upon us and agencies across the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working to ensure a stronger and healthier future for our nation’s next generation of leaders. That means providing a happy and healthy learning environment for our kids, and helping them grow up with the tools they need to succeed. Read more »

Farmers Markets as Community Centerpieces

Click to enlarge image.

Farmers markets have become a critical ingredient to our nation’s economy, food systems, and communities. Connecting rural to urban, farmer to consumer, and fresh ingredients to our diets, farmers markets are becoming economic and community centerpieces in cities and towns across the U.S.

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to kick off National Farmers Market Week at a wonderfully diverse and thriving market—the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace in Washington, DC.  Columbia Heights represents what I envision many farmers markets are like– a market with a deep sense of community that provides local residents with access to fresh, locally produced fruit, vegetables, meats, baked goods, and much more.  It’s also a place where neighbor meets neighbor, and the many benefits of having a farmers market nearby are felt throughout the community. Read more »

Enjoy Foods from Many Cultures with MyPlate

The summer months often present more leisure time for families and friends to gather together.  These celebrations, like celebrations throughout the year, usually involve food. The USDA wants to make sure that your festive meals are healthy and that’s why the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) has released a new resource offering 10 tips to wisely celebrate healthier foods and customs. The new tip sheet, which is part of the 10 tips Nutrition Education Series, shows you how to embrace the favorite foods of your culture, as well as foods from other cultures, in a healthier way.

Enjoy Foods from Many Cultures, available for free download at ChooseMyPlate.gov, highlights ways to maintain a healthy diet while preparing and enjoying the food we love.  I recently talked about this with Taylor Durkin, a summer intern at CNPP, who reflected that “One of my favorite tips from this resource is to add a touch of spice. I always use herbs and spices like basil, cilantro, and ginger when I cook. It adds freshness and flavor to my meals!” Read more »