Glenwood, Rifle area schools take beef off the table |

Glenwood, Rifle area schools take beef off the table

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Local school districts have suspended serving beef in area schools after discovering that some of the beef supplied to Roaring Fork School District and Garfield School District Re-2 came from the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co.

Westland/Hallmark recalled 143 million pounds of beef on Sunday in the largest beef recall in American history.

Roaring Fork School District food services director Lori Burgess said she was contacted on Jan. 31 and was informed to have each RFSD school’s beef supplies inspected and place the meat on “administrative hold” while the situation was in limbo.

“We do have that beef in our district and I did put a hold on it as soon as I was notified,” Burgess said.

Tuesday morning, Burgess was instructed to dispose of any beef at the schools that came from the California-based Westland/Hallmark packing plant.

“It’s been recalled and it will not be served in any of the schools in the district,” Burgess said.

Garfield School District Re-2’s director of food services, Susan Beecraft, said that she was also notified a couple of weeks ago and found two boxes of the questionable beef immediately and disposed of the meat right away.

Both districts have since eliminated all the beef selections from their menus, even meat not coming from Westland/Hallmark.

“We have pulled all the beef off the menu since we became aware of the problem,” Beecraft said.

However, some of the Westland/Hallmark beef may have already been consumed by students because the beef is sometimes processed into other foods like chicken-fried steak, and served for lunch.

“I don’t think any of the bad product was served to anyone,” Beecraft said. “We really don’t know.”

But according to Burgess, and several Associated Press reports, the beef wasn’t recalled because it was confirmed to be contaminated, but because of the potential for contamination by diseases like mad cow disease.

An AP video posted on the popular video Web site, YouTube, shows one cow at the processing plant, unable to walk, being pushed by a forklift. Another cow is shown pulled by a chain attached to something out of frame.

The beef processed at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., based in Chino, Calif., was recalled on Sunday after a similar video showing what are referred to as “downed” cows being processed at the plant in January. “Downed” cows cannot walk on their own accord for whatever reason, and are to be inspected by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarian, according to AP.

Burgess and Beecraft said that they would begin going through the schools Wednesday morning and round up all the recalled beef and dispose of it as mandated by the state.

“That product will be destroyed and has not been produced in our schools,” Burgess said. “It’s never been thawed, it’s always been frozen.”

More than likely the questionable beef will be taken to the Garfield County landfill.

Other entities, like City Market, weren’t affected by the recall. According to City Market spokesman Trail Daugherty, City Market shoppers don’t need to worry about the beef on their shelves.

“We were not affected by the recall because we don’t carry any of the product from that producer,” Daugherty said.

Over the coming weeks the school districts will be replenishing their beef reserves. But for the time being, they will substitute beef products with other meats like chicken or turkey.

Burgess said that it’s been more of a headache than anything else. She wanted parents to know that there is no need for concern.

“I would be more concerned if I was told the beef was tainted,” Burgess said. “It’s one of those things you can’t assume. We are talking millions of pounds of beef. (The USDA) has to blanket it and cover all the bases.”

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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