Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds are releasing a letter they sent to superintendents this afternoon, encouraging them to continue choosing lean, finely textured beef in schools as an effort to battle childhood obesity.
The letter can be found here.
The governor and lieutenant governor penned the letter as a response to the USDA's action allowing schools to choose whether they will continue serving this lean product in Iowa schools. Branstad and Reynolds will continue encouraging supermarkets and restaurants to offer this product as a safe, healthy choice for their consumers.
Text of the letter is as follows:
The United States Department of Agriculture recently gave you a choice in the beef you serve your students.
I am asking you to continue choosing the safe and healthy lean, finely textured beef.
As you know, this safe and healthy product has come under fire in recent weeks, as critics dubbed the product with derogatory smears designed to drive people away from consuming this product.
The safety of this food is unmatched. In more than 20 years, there has not been one sickness or death associated with E. Coli or other bacteria. If lean, finely textured beef is pulled from schools in Iowa, the risks will be greater in using products deemed less safe.
Perhaps even more important is the battle we are waging against childhood obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama recently joined me at a rally where 10,000 students learned the value of exercise, eating well and taking good care of their bodies. By removing this lean product, schools will be forced to serve a fattier, unhealthier product. My goal is to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation over the next 5 years. We will not get there if we take a step backwards by removing lean, finely textured beef.
There will always be naysayers who attempt to bully you away from particular products. Make no mistake -- if I, or the USDA, believed for a moment that the facts, science and health safety were against lean, finely textured beef, we would not be advocating for it so strongly. We are asking you to set an example and not cater to the bullying that is occurring over this product.
If this product ceases to exist in schools, grocery stores and restaurants, it is estimated that 3,000 jobs could be eliminated. This product is proudly raised, fed, processed, packaged, transported and sold by parents of your school's students. By supporting this great Iowa product and serving it in your schools, you will send a strong signal on behalf of those who rely on it for their living.
It's safe. It's healthy. It's the right thing to do. Thank you for your serious consideration in continuing to serve lean, finely textured beef in your schools.
Gov. Terry E. Branstad Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds