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Mass. schools give outdated food to jails

April 12, 2011 at 7:33 PM

BOSTON, April 12 (UPI) -- The Massachusetts Department of Corrections says most of the outdated food passed on to it by the Department of Education has been thrown out.

About 11,000 cases of everything from cheese to frozen chicken were removed from warehouses where they had been stored while awaiting shipment to school cafeterias, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday. The Education Department began a review after out-of-date food was discovered in Boston school cafeterias.

Dianne Wiffin, director of public affairs for the Corrections Department, said a lot of the food, including 2,000 cases of cheese, was tossed when prison officials realized it had passed its use-by date. The prison system refused to pick up other items from the warehouses.

But the Hampden County Sheriff's Department in western Massachusetts said it did accept cheese with use-by dates in December and March for use at the county jail.

"It's been a good way to serve good food very frugally in terms of the budget," said Richard McCarthy, a spokesman for the sheriff. "It's not rancid food. It's not spoiled food."

Leslie Walker of Prisoners' Legal Services said the outdated food may not make inmates sick but is likely to have lost nutritional value. He called passing on outdated food to prisons "disgusting."

"My clients are all too aware that they are on the bottom of the pecking order, but to get food that is unfit for schoolchildren to consume should make it unfit for any human being to consume,'' he said.

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