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TO: Superintendents of Schools / Private School Administrators


FROM: Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner, Department of Education

Dora A. Mills, MD, MPH, Director Bureau of Health

Department of Human Services


Robert W. Spear, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture


DATE: September 10, 2003


SUBJECT:      Irradiated Foods National School Lunch Program



**Please forward to Principals and Food Service Directors**


We wish to call your attention to the Congressional directive, through the 2002 Farm Bill, to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to permit the use of approved food safety technology (irradiation) for food purchased for the National School Lunch Program.


In January 2004, the USDA will begin offering commodity irradiated beef as a choice for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. For Maine, the irradiated beef is likely to be available during the 2004-2005 school year.


The Maine Department of Education, Maine Department of Human Services, Bureau of Health, and the Maine Department of Agriculture have collaborated in discussions surrounding the science of food irradiation and, after thorough study of the information available on this issue, have agreed that irradiated foods can provide a critical extra layer of food safety for our school children, in addition to the normal food safety precautions used in food preparation. Further, we conclude that the irradiation of foods is a safe and necessary safety measure that we should not refuse for inclusion in our school lunch programs.


The Maine Department of Education will advise schools when the irradiated beef will be available for purchase. The USDA will be communicating directly with all school superintendents informing them of the availability of irradiated foods. In addition, the Maine Department of Education will provide, throughout the 2003-2004 school year, additional information and educational resources for use with parents, students, and teachers.


Should you choose to serve irradiated ground beef in your school lunch program, we urge you to study the information on food irradiation and provide sufficient information through communications with parents and students in order to allow them to make informed choices regarding the consumption of irradiated foods. We direct you to this web page for facts, information and the most commonly asked questions/answers about food irradiation:


Together, we commit to assuring the health, safety, and well being of Maine's school children. For additional information please contact Walter Beesley, Food Service Specialist, Child Nutrition Services, Department of Education: or Philip W. Haines, DrPH, Deputy Director of Bureau of Health, Department of Human Services: