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Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Celina schools keep recalled beef on ice

By Janie Southard
Where's the beef? In Celina school district it's quarantined in the freezer.
Celina received about 100 pounds of the 143 million pounds of beef recalled this week by the United States Department of Agriculture in what is now termed a low risk recall.
USDA officials have designated the recall as Class II due to the "remote probability that the beef being recalled would cause adverse health effects if consumed."
USDA officials announced the recall Sunday after the Humane Society of the United States released undercover video showing crippled and sick animals at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. slaughterhouse in California being shoved with forklifts. Federal regulations discourage slaughterhouses from processing "downer cows" into meat because they may pose a higher risk of contamination from E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease.
The USDA may permit these cows to be used, but only after an inspector's approval. The animals involved did pass an inspection before slaughter, but should have been identified as requiring additional inspection after slaughter, officials said.
Officials estimate that about 55 million pounds of the recalled beef went to USDA nutrition programs, the bulk of it for schools.
"I don't believe we've served any of that beef," said Deb Schroyer, food service supervisor for Celina City Schools. "Right now we're buying from a different supplier instead of using (beef) commodities."
She added that representatives from the state commodities service will be meeting at the school Thursday.
The recalled beef is likely to be replaced by the federal/state commodities agencies, but there are other expenses involved if the meat was combined with other foods.
"Schools who mixed the meat into spaghetti sauce or tacos and had to throw all that away - will they be reimbursed for the other products too? We don't know yet what will happen there," district Business Manager Mike McKirnan said this morning.
The local district did not use any of the recalled beef, but typically uses commodity beef for meat sauces, taco meat, Salisbury steak, charbroiled beef patties and beef crumbles.
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