A Tennessee school district is under fire for allegedly having served 6-year-old pork to students. A local commissioner said some Hawkins County School District schools were serving meat that had expired beyond USDA shelf-life recommendations – some were dated back to 2009. What’s more, according to a Huffington Post report, some cafeteria workers tried to mask the old pork products with gravy.
Commissioner Michael Herrell, who is also a parent of a student in the district, received a disturbing photo from a whistleblower that works at Joseph Rogers Primary School. Apparently, the school worker sent Herrell a photo of pork roast that students were being served at other schools. It prompted a district-wide investigation into the 6-year-old meat, according to the commissioner.
“These high-schoolers — they understand if they see something they are not going to like, they don’t eat it. When you get to these kindergartners, first- and second-graders, do they really know if the meat is bad or not?
They go to school, and that might be the only meal they get all day long, and it just very upsets me that these kids are going to school to get that meal. It just didn’t go over well with me when I heard we were feeding these kids meat that’s dated 2009.”
The investigation showed that children were served the years-old pork as late as April 22. One of the most startling findings is an allegation that cafeteria workers at one school were pressured by management to serve the dated pork meat with gravy to mask the taste from students.
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Steve Starnes, Hawkins County Director of Schools, spoke with reporters about the discovery of the meat dated from six years ago. According to the official, when he learned of the meat in question being served by school cafeterias, thorough tests were conducted to rule out pathogens.
However, tests results did not show the presence of anything harmful in the meats. Moreover, according to Starnes, there have been no official student reports of illness from the consumption of the pork.
“There were some meats with dates of 2009, ’10, ’11 in the freezer. Our child nutrition supervisor had the cafeteria managers look at the meat, do the tests, and see if it was OK.
We also began inventory on all of our frozen food items to make sure. We’re not only going to be incorporating the package date, but also the delivery date on our inventory items to make sure we know exactly when those items came in.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (or USDA), federal guidelines recommend frozen roasts be discarded after a period of between four and 12 months. This is a time to ensure optimal quality.
Starnes said his office is implementing new inventory practices to prevent incidents like 6-year-old pork from being served to students. Going forward, there will be random inspections — at least two at a time.
[Photo by Jana Birchum/Getty Images]