Making School Foods Safe: Policy Changes to Reduce Risks to Students
Each year, an estimated 48 million Americans get sick from eating contaminated foods, and half of them are children. Over the past 40 years, tens of thousands of students and staff have been sickened by outbreaks in schools caused by contaminated meat, poultry and lettuce. Children are at particularly high risk for foodborne illnesses because they weigh less than adults and their immune systems are still developing. Common foodborne diseases like Salmonella can lead to short- and long-term health consequences, and in some cases even death.
There are steps everyone can take—whether at home or in a school kitchen—to reduce the risk of getting sick from a foodborne disease. Washing hands, storing food properly and cooking foods to the right temperature are some of the guidelines schools follow in their kitchens and cafeterias. Federal, state and local government agencies share responsibility for overseeing schools’ safety practices and ensuring that contaminated food doesn’t make it into cafeterias.