Mich. Schools Say Recalled Beef Had Been Served to Students

February 21, 2008

Portage Public Schools is reporting that hamburger from the largest beef recall ever in the United States had earlier been served to its students, and some other Michigan districts say they also got meat now involved in the recall.

No illnesses have been linked to the recalled meat, and officials say the health threat likely is small.

“It was in our taco sauce and our spaghetti sauce,” Portage district food service manager Lance Gerry told the Kalamazoo Gazette for a story Monday. “We’ve been serving those products for a while.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef from Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. in Southern California after reviewing an undercover video showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts.

The Portage district, near Kalamazoo, received an administrative e-mail from the USDA and stopped serving the products to students on Jan. 31. Cases of the beef are being stored by the district.

“We’re trying to get an accurate assessment of how much we have,” Gerry said.

Some of the beef also went to school lunch programs in other districts including Grand Rapids Public Schools, which must throw out 10 tons of hamburger.

Paul Baumgartner, director of nutrition services for Grand Rapids schools, told The Grand Rapids Press that the school district learned of a potential problem two weeks ago through the USDA notice.

Ann Arbor Public Schools spokesman Liz Margolis told The Ann Arbor News that the district has about 200 pounds of quarantined beef.

The USDA has not requested help from the Michigan Department of Agriculture in this recall, state spokeswoman Jennifer Holton said Monday.

“They’ll call and ask that we do a recall effectiveness check to make sure the word gets out and the product is removed from commerce,” she said.

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