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Schools & Day Care Centers to Serve Irradiated Beef to Children

Some schools, day-care centers to serve irradiated beef

by Brendan O'Neill <> on 9/2/04 for

Schools and day-care centers in Minnesota, Nebraska and Texas will be
serving irradiated ground beef to children this year, despite the protests
of some local officials and parents.

This is the first year the U.S. Department of Agriculture has offered
irradiated beef in national school lunch and other federal food programs,
but it has been on grocery store shelves since 2000. In Nebraska, 50
schools and 15 day-care centers have ordered the meat, which is exposed to
gamma rays or electricity to kill harmful bacteria.

Critics argue that eating irradiated food could cause health problems like

Laura Kresbach, a mother and a regional representative for the Sierra Club
in Lincoln, Neb., said she would not be comfortable with her children eating
irradiated beef.

"The jury's still out on this irradiation thing," she said. "Why should we
be playing guinea pig with our kids?"

Nebraska orders about 1 million pounds of ground beef each year for schools
and day-care centers. This year 2 percent of that is irradiated, which
costs about 15 cents more per pound than regular ground beef.

State and federal officials are urging schools and day-care centers to
inform parents if they are serving irradiated beef.