Wake schools unload recalled beef

February 21, 2008 8:13:46 AM PST
The Wake County School System is throwing out thousands of pounds of meat before it reaches school lunchrooms as part of the largest meat recall in U.S. history.

One palate after another - more than 1,300 cases of recalled beef was pulled from warehouse freezer shelves and hauled away Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of beef from a Southern California slaughterhouse that is the subject of an animal-abuse investigation.

The recall will affect beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006, that came from Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., the federal agency said. The company provided meat to various federal programs including 25 school districts in North Carolina.

Marilyn Moody with the Wake County Public School System explains, "It's large. It's the largest beef recall we have experienced in the national school lunch program. And we actually have a significant amount of the beef from N.C. here in Wake County schools."

More than 250 cases of taco, spaghetti, and hamburger meat remain in Wake County Schools waiting to be picked up later this week. Some of it has already been eaten, but no one has reported illness because of the beef.

Throwing away 35,000 pounds of raw meat will give school officials a stomach ache ? the recall could cost the district almost $100,000. "They will return product to us or the value of that product so that is what we anticipate will happen," Moody said. "If not we will have to absorb the loss of that product."

Disposing of the recalled beef is a time consuming and expensive chore. Moody says, "Smaller school districts that don't have the volume are allowed by USDA guidelines are allowed to destroy the meat themselves. If fewer than 50 cases, cover in Clorox and dispose of it."

Wake County has requested help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take the recalled meat to a landfill. Moody could not explain what will happen to the meat at that point.


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