Recalled beef pulled from RE1J kitchens

Health hazard considered remote

Some of the beef recalled by a California meat company on Sunday, February 17 has already been consumed by Gunnison County school children. The remaining ground beef, which was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, has been set aside and will be disposed of, according to Gunnison RE1J school district officials.




The recall is considered a Class II recall, meaning that the chances of health hazards from consuming the beef are remote.
The beef recall by Westland/ Hallmark Meat Company, based in Chino, California, is considered the largest beef recall in U.S. history with 143 million pounds affected. Of that, roughly 400 pounds made its way to Gunnison County through the federal National School Lunch Program and into the Gunnison Community School and Crested Butte Community School cafeterias, according to kitchen head and free and reduced lunch coordinator Pam Neary.
It appears that up to 10 cases of the recalled beef were delivered to the local schools since September 2007 and roughly seven cases were consumed by the time the district was notified of a potential recall. Each case contained 40 pounds of ground beef. Two cases were delivered to the Crested Butte Community School since September and were used. “They didn’t have any at the time of the recall,” Neary says.
The recall stemmed from animal-abuse uncovered by the Humane Society of the United States at the Westland/Hallmark slaughterhouse. In video that’s been widely distributed on the Internet, Westland/ Hallmark workers are shown abusing sick cows and using fork lifts to force them to walk.
Cows that cannot walk, called downer cows, are banned from the human food chain because of an increased risk of disease, including mad cow disease. The Department of Agriculture said the company failed to contact its veterinarian about downer cows that became sick after initial inspection, violating health restrictions.
Colorado Department of Human Services spokeswoman Liz McDonough says 80 cases of Westland/ Hallmark beef are thought to have been distributed to school districts in Colorado. She says it’s important to remember that “There haven’t been any reports that anyone has been sickened by this. The USDA is erring on the cautious side and we’re following their direction.”
Superintendent Jon Nelson agrees. “Obviously, we won’t serve it anymore and we couldn’t have known about it before the recall,” he says.
The Gunnison School District is continuing to serve beef in school lunches, but the product is being procured from a private company and is not a subject of the recall.

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