The Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization process is currently underway, and is a great opportunity to place restrictions on the use of irradiated meat in the National School Lunch Program, which serves 29 million students daily. Fortunately, a provision in the House version of the bill contains several important aspects. It states that the USDA cannot mandate the use of irradiated foods or provide financial incentives for schools to serve irradiated food, the irradiated products cannot be mixed with non-irradiated products, and schools will be encouraged to always offer a non-irradiated option.
This provision is a huge step in the right direction, but doesn’t go quite far enough. Currently irradiated food does not have to be labeled when served in schools. This is a blatant violation of parents’ right-to-know and needs to be changed.
Now is our chance! We must contact our senators and demand that they not only include this House provision in the final version of the bill, but that IN ADDITION they require clear labeling for menu items that have been irradiated and display prominent signs in cafeterias when irradiated food is being served.
SEND A FREE FAX to your senators now, and ask them to include the House irradiation provision in the senate Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization bill AND add in labeling and signage!
This action is very simple and will require only a few minutes of your time.
If you are from Iowa, your message is of vital importance, since it was Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) who included a provision in the 2002 Farm Bill that permitted the USDA to sell irradiated meats to schools under the School Lunch Program. Tell the Senator what you really think of his actions, which included no public hearings or testimony.
The House version of the bill contains the following:
1) irradiated food products are made available only at the request of states and school food authorities; the USDA cannot mandate the use of irradiated foods
2) schools would be required to pay for the additional cost of irradiated products; the USDA could only reimburse them for the amount equal to what non-irradiated products cost
3) states and school food service authorities will be provided factual information on irradiation, including notice that irradiation is not a substitute for safe food handling techniques
4) states and school food service authorities will be given a model for how to share food irradiation information with school food service authorities, parents, and students
5) irradiated food products distributed to the Federal school meals program will be labeled with a symbol or other printed notice indicating that the product was treated with irradiation
6) irradiated products will not be commingled with non-irradiated products
7) schools that offer irradiated foods will be encouraged to offer alternatives to irradiated food as part of the meal plan
Please act now to protect our children!