We found most of the food served to local children perfectly safe. But not all of it.
The USDA buys about 30 million pounds of food for school cafeterias every year. We examined the regional complaints from 2001 to 2003.
Illinois and Missouri have the most complaints.
Students found chocking hazards like wire and rubber pieces in hamburger patties.
In Illinois, students found buckshot in their hamburger.
In Missouri, some students found bones in tacos and rodent droppings on cheese.
Hazelwood and Pattonville reported in 2002 ground beef that looked white.
Jean Daniel, a public affairs specialist with the USDA said, "about three percent of all outbreaks of foodborn illness occur in the national school lunch program."
Overall, The USDA spokesperson said, food is safe.
Daniel said, "It's a small amount. That is not to say we don't take that small amount seriously. Any one complaint is too much for us."
The USDA does not have a public database listing types of food complaints. Currently, there are no plans to create one. A spokesperson with the USDA said anyone could request a free copy of these documents through the complaint hotline.
Toll-free hotline number: 1-800-446-6991
or e-mail: email@example.com