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BREAKING NEWS

USC stops using ground beef

By Staff | Feb 28, 2008

A local school district immediately stopped using ground beef it purchased because it may have come from a California company accused of abusing sick animals it later processed for human consumption.

Pam Melby, food service director for United South Central schools, says the meat was received from a U.S. Department of Agriculture program.

“In all of my 15 years, I have never run into anything like this before,” she says. “Usually it’s canned goods that are pulled or recalled.”

USC superintendent Bob Stuerman says the district didn’t receive many cases of product with the Westland label.

“We’re not using it until we find out different. We’re just waiting to see what the feds tell us,” Stuerman adds.

The cases of beef that came from Westland Hallmark Meat Co., says Melby, may not be among the specific shipments in question.

Westland delivered ground beef to schools in 36 states through a USDA program between Oct. 26 and Nov. 5, 2007.

Melby says the meat received by the district was from August 2007 and earlier this year.

“We still have a hold on them until we find out for sure. We are very fortunate we got only a few cases,” she says.

Melby says three cases of meatballs and 13 cases of mini-hamburger patties are being stored in the corner of a freezer.

In early February, the Minnesota Department of Education ordered school districts in the state to stop using beef from the Westland.

Melby recalls getting her first e-mail regrading the problem from state education officials on Jan. 31.

Blue Earth Area superintendent Dale Brandsoy says the district’s meat supplier assured him that none of their ground beef shipments were from Westland.

Melby says only a “few pounds” of beef from Westland were used.

“We stopped using the meat as soon as we found out,” she says.

Melby says no students became ill nor was there any health risk at anytime.

USC’s lunch program is provided to nearly 900 students at the high school, middle school, elementary school and St. Casimir’s.

The USDA has suspended the California company from federal food and nutrition programs.