By Ken Shepherd

Every now and then, we at NewsBusters like to point out a solid piece of journalism, instances where the media report news that cuts against the liberal narrative of the world that the MSM usually churn out.And so today, I thought I’d pass along how USA Today noted today that “Fast-food standards for meat top those for school lunches” (h/t NB intern Mike Sargent ):In the past three years, the government has provided the nation’s schools with millions of pounds of beef and chicken that wouldn’t meet the quality or safety standards of many fast-food restaurants, from Jack in the Box and other burger places to chicken chains such as KFC, a USA TODAY investigation found.The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the meat it buys for the National School Lunch Program “meets or exceeds standards in commercial products.”

That isn’t always the case. McDonald’s, Burger King and Costco, for instance, are far more rigorous in checking for bacteria and dangerous pathogens. They test the ground beef they buy five to 10 times more often than the USDA tests beef made for schools during a typical production day.

And the limits Jack in the Box and other big retailers set for certain bacteria in their burgers are up to 10 times more stringent than what the USDA sets for school beef.

For chicken, the USDA has supplied schools with thousands of tons of meat from old birds that might otherwise go to compost or pet food. Called “spent hens” because they’re past their egg-laying prime, the chickens don’t pass muster with Colonel Sanders— KFC won’t buy them — and they don’t pass the soup test, either. The Campbell Soup Company says it stopped using them a decade ago based on “quality considerations.”

“We simply are not giving our kids in schools the same level of quality and safety as you get when you go to many fast-food restaurants,” says J. Glenn Morris, professor of medicine and director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida. “We are not using those same standards.”

Imagine that? Private sector restaurants that have to compete for market share are much more stringent about food quality than shall we say government-run schools with a captive market share.

In other words, when it comes to the “public option,” school kids are much better off resorting to eating what Mom brown-bagged for lunch and/or trading lunches with other kids (free market bartering).

What’s more, reporters Peter Eisler, Blake Morrison and Anthony DeBarros went on to note that while the regulations governing public school cafeterias are more stringent than government regulations on supermarket meat, “those government rules have fallen behind the increasingly tough standards that have evolved among fast-food chains and more selective retailers.”

At a time when the media are complict in pushing Democratic talking points about the value of a “public option” for health care, it’s refreshing to see a major newspaper note a study that proves what conservatives instinctually know about the tremendous gap in quality between what private vendors in a free market provide versus what a government monopoly can manage to dole out.

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