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Officials Defend Food Served In Boston Schools

At a City Council meeting Tuesday, Boston school officials defended the food served at city schools following the discovery of expired food at cafeterias and a department warehouse.

Boston Public Schools' director of food and nutrition services was reassigned after inspectors found 280 cases of out-of-date food in 40 cafeterias. It was the second time this month that food beyond expiration and “use-by” dates has been found in city schools.

School officials also set aside more than 3,000 cases of food in a privately operated supply warehouse in Wilmington because records do not show expiration dates or “best-if-used-by” dates.

But Tuesday, at the meeting called by City Councilor John Connolly, school officials repeatedly said that the food served in city schools is safe. They say the problem they're having is with food storage and inventory control.

The just-appointed interim director of food services, Shalim Mohammed, also says he wants to improve the quality of food used in all of the nearly 60,000 meals served in Boston schools every day.

"This is a giant ship that we're trying to turn around," he said. "Our priority is to ensure that as we turn this big ship around that we don't turn it over."

Before the meeting, Connolly said removing the schools’ food director is a good first step.

“Our hope is to get a full grasp on the extent of the inventory mismanagement — the amount of expired food that made its way to students,” Connolly said.

Connolly said out-of-date food has not put students in danger, but the food’s nutritional value may have deteriorated.

Another council hearing, where students and parents can testify, is scheduled for Thursday.

With reporting from WBUR's Deborah Becker and The Associated Press.

This program aired on March 22, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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