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Apple Removal Spreads to Florida

Times Education Writer

Dade County Public Schools in Florida, the nation’s fourth-largest school district, on Wednesday joined a growing list of school systems across the nation that have banished apples and related products from lunch menus because of fear of daminozide, a chemical used to treat some apple crops.

It follows New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and scores of smaller districts that have removed apples, apple juice and apple sauce from school cafeterias and vending machines.

In Los Angeles County, 54 out of 82 districts as of Wednesday had stopped serving fresh apples and products made from them.

However, at least two local districts--San Marino and Antelope Valley Union--said they have decided to return apples to school menus today after consulting outside experts and vendors, who told them that daminozide levels are not harmful or were not found in the products they use.

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In other districts, such as Culver City, Newhall Elementary and El Monte Union High School District, officials said they were still serving apple juice, because they were convinced that it did not contain daminozide in dangerous levels.

Most districts said they are refraining from serving fresh apples and apple products until they receive official word from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state Department of Education that doing so would not pose a health risk to children. State Health Services Director Kenneth W. Kizer on Tuesday said districts were overreacting by not serving the fruit to students.

Jack Hastings, food and nutrition director for Dade County schools, which provides 163,000 lunches a day, said: “When New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles made the decision (to stop serving apples), we decided maybe we better do the same thing.”

He said Dade--which includes Miami’s schools--would continue the ban “until we get some answer from a regulatory agency one way or another” about the safety of apples treated with daminozide, which has been linked to cancer in laboratory studies using rats.

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Back in Schools

However, officials in the San Marino Unified School District, after receiving verification from suppliers that their products do not contain the chemical, decided Wednesday that it was safe to start serving apples and apple products again, Food Service Director Susan Delgado said.

Likewise, students in the Newhall Elementary School District, who have not been offered any apples since Monday, will also start seeing the fruit again today, according to Food Services Director Terry Custer.

Custer said he consulted the USDA and the Toxic Information Center, a San Francisco-based group funded by the state Department of Health Services, and is now convinced that it is “better to eat the apples than not eat them. . . .”

“I’m satisfied now . . . that the whole thing has been blown slightly out of proportion,” he said.

In Newhall, Child Nutrition Director Geri Dee said the district’s five schools have continued to serve apple juice on demand to students who, for health or other reasons, do not drink milk.

Contributing to this article were researchers Tracy Thomas and Shawn Griggs.

APPLE BAN

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Fifty-four out of 82 Los Angeles County school districts have quit serving apples or apple products to students because of concern over the chemical daminozide.

ABC Unified School District

Alhambra City and High School District

Arcadia Unified School District

Azusa Unified School District

Bellflower Unified School District

Beverly Hills Unified School District

Bonita Unified School District

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Castaic Union School District

Centinela Valley Union High School District

Charter Oak Unified School District

Claremont Unified School District

Compton Unified School District

Covina-Valley Unified School District

Culver City Unified School District

Downey Unified School District

Duarte Unified School District

East Whittier City School District

El Monte Union High School District

El Rancho Unified School District

El Segundo Unified School District

Glendora Unified School District

Hacienda La Puente Unified School District

Hermosa Beach City School District

Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Union School District

Inglewood Unified School District

Keppel Union School District

La Canada Unified School District

Las Virgenes Unified School District

Lawndale School District

Little Lake City School District

Lowell Joint School District

Lynwood Unified School District

Monrovia Unified School District

Mountain View School District

Newhall School District

Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District

Palmdale School District

Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District

Paramount Unified School District

Pomona Unified School District

Redondo Beach City School District

Rowland Unified School District

Saugus Union School District

Soledad-Agua Dulce Union School District

South Bay Union High School District

South Pasadena Unified School District

South Whittier School District

Sulphur Springs Union School District

Temple City Unified School District

Torrance Unified School District

West Covina Unified School District

Whittier City School District

William S. Hart Union High School District

Wilsona School District


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