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UPDATE: Boston City Councilor John Connolly Catches Four Boston Schools with Expired Frozen Food

Boston School department undergoing inventory of all foods in schools, as directed by Mayor Thomas Menino.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 12:40 p.m. on Thursday with comments from Matt Wilder, Boston Public Schools Director of Media Relations.

After finding four Boston Public Schools with frozen food well past their expiration dates still in their freezers, At-Large Boston City Councilor John Connolly wants school officials to explain how come students are being fed expired food.

Connolly visited the Curley K-8 School, English High School, Orchard Gardens School, and Boston Latin Academy, and found things like expired liquid cheese. He said he saw expired food in every school's kitchen, not just their freezer, said a Connolly aide. 

While frozen foods can be served after their recommended expiration dates, Connolly noted that "unsafe food practices could compromise the safety and welfare of students" and that parents and students need to be informed about the quality of food that BPS is serving to students.

Said Matt Wilder, Director of Media Relations for BPS, "(Mayor Thomas Menino) has asked (Superintendent Carol Johnson) to take a full inventory of food in schools. We began that process yesterday (March 2) and we will be doing that in the next few days. We follow USDA guidelines that say this food is safe. No one is questioning the safety of the food. I don’t believe Councilor Connolly is questioning  the safety of the food but the nutritional value."

Like Connolly, Wilder posed a question about the food, "Should we hold ourselves to a higher standards? We've been looking at what we’re serving and provide the highest quality of food to students day after day. We’ve beein doing that by serving more fresh fruit and vegetables and having chefs in schools. We are reaching higher every day and we’re going to continue to do that."

Wilder reiterated, "We follow the USDA guidelines, but the question for us  - are those guidelines at the level that is high enough for Boston?"

Connolly has requested any and all documentation of food provided by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to BPS related to the purchase, storage, disposal and serving of items that were received past expiration dates. He has requested the City provid this information. 

In particular, Connolly has requested information from the City and BPS about any documentation about memos relating to cheese sticks that were not to be served to students on June 20, 2010.

One of Connolly's peers, At-Large Councilor Felix Arroyo quickly championed Connolly's work, "I would like to commend Councilor Connolly for bringing this issue to our attention.  I would never serve expired foods to a member of my own family. We should not serve the students that attend the Boston Public Schools food we would not eat or serve our own loved ones. While I have not been blessed with children yet, all of my nieces and nephews that are of school age attend the Boston Public Schools. I am stunned that we may be serving them and all Boston Public School students expired foods."

Doug Steelburg March 02, 2011 at 10:13 PM
This is ludicrous. All this fuss about cheese 9-months past its expiration. This is frozen, canned or otherwise processed food that is shelf stable basically in perpetuity. If anything, the food might taste stale, but it's not going to harm anyone. No one's going to notice a difference several months past the date on a package. This article in Slate has a good summation of the ambiguity surrounding expiration dates: http://www.slate.com/id/2244249/ On a related, but not totally applicable note, the military still administers medications several years past their expiration date: http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update1103a.shtml The reason for this is because disposing of a large stockpile of expired goods whether they be medicine in the military or food in a large urban school district can be an incredibly expensive proposition.
Jack Correia March 04, 2011 at 12:45 PM
I think that this a real problem. I am a retired meatcutter, and know just how dangerous this practice can be. I feel that whoever is in charge of the quality control of the foods for the public school should be held responsible for this and then fired . I want to know who is letting this out dated food to be delivered to these schools. The federal government should also be held responsible for sending out this out dated foods to these schools. It is dangerous. Jack Correia

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