School officials in Hawkins County, Tennessee say they’re taking inventory of their food supply after meat that sat in a freezer for more than 5 years was served to students at several campuses.
The pork roast, which had reportedly been frozen in 2009, ended up in school lunches April 22. County Commissioner Michael Herrell says the husband of a cafeteria worker sent him a picture of a portion of the meat that had been thawed.
Herrell says a cook at Cherokee High School in Rogersville told him the meat was “bad,” and that a manager instructed the cook to “cover it with gravy” to make it taste better.
Hawkins County school director Steve Starnes told ABC affiliate WATE-TV that while they look for other possible food anomalies within their system, they’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.”
The US Department of Agriculture says “food stored constantly at zero degrees will always be safe.” According to the agency’s food safety guidelines, the quality of the food will suffer, but it won’t be any less edible. The USDA further explains the process of freezing slows down the molecules in food, “causing microbes to enter a dormant stage.” That keeps microorganisms from growing and causing spoilage.
School officials told WATE-TV no students in Hawkins County reported getting sick from the years-old meat.
Here’s the full report from ABC News:
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