Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
By Steve Huffman
Meat was pulled Monday from Rowan County schools as part of the most massive recall in U.S. history.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture ordered the recall because a company didn’t prevent sick animals from entering the nation’s food supply.
Rita Foil, a spokeswoman for the Rowan-Salisbury School System, said all or parts of nine cases of meat products were pulled Monday from cafeterias at local schools.
She said none of the recalled meat had been served since Feb. 4 and said there have been no reports of anyone becoming sick as a result of consuming it.
Foil said the meat is in the form of taco and spaghetti sauces. She said a case of the product totals 30 pounds, coming in six 5-pound bags.
Foil said the product has been returned to a school system warehouse on Franklin Street in Salisbury. She said it will be destroyed per USDA instruction.
Foil reiterated what USDA officials have said since the start of the recall last week, emphasizing that the meat was pulled because of the inhumane manner in which the cattle were slaughtered.
According to the USDA, the meat, distributed by Westland Meat Co., poses little or no hazard to consumers and that most of it was eaten long ago.
“It’s not a food-safety concern,” Foil said. “It comes from the inhumane way the cattle were treated.”
She said school officials contacted representatives of the Rowan County Health Department Monday and were told that the health department wasn’t involved in the recall or investigation of the matter.
Foil said another food item will be substituted on the days when the recalled meat was supposed to have been served.
The recall has been long in the works.
A year ago, the USDA purchased about 200,000 pounds of the beef to be distributed to warehouses in Creedmoor and Salisbury. State officials said about 15 school districts in North Carolina received the meat.
The recall comes less than three weeks after the release of a videotape showing what USDA officials later called “egregious violations” of federal animal care regulations by employees of a Westland partner, Hallmark Meat Packing in Chino, Calif.
Hallmark is accused of failing to consistently bring in federal veterinarians to examine cattle headed for slaughter that were too sick or weak to stand on their own.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.nnn
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.