McDonald's, Burger King and Costco, for example, 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 [United States Department of Agriculture] tests beef made for schools during a typical production day.
Also, the USDA, which oversees the program, has much less stringent limits on the amount of bacteria that is allowed to be present in meat than do many fast-food restaurants. Jack in the Box, for example (as well as other big fast food retailers), has limits “up to 10 times more stringent than what the USDA sets for school beef.”
This is especially worrisome because the meat goes to schools: children are more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses because their immune systems are not completely developed. It is also uncertain whether all school cafeteria workers have adequate safety training, and know to cook the meat well enough to kill any pathogens.
USDA-purchased meat is served to 31 million students a day.