02/19/08 — Wayne County Public Schools affected by meat recall

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Wayne County Public Schools affected by meat recall

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 19, 2008 1:57 PM

The Wayne County Public Schools system is on the list of school districts affected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's beef recall, but there is no cause for alarm, officials here say.

"Most likely there were products that were consumed, but we have been assured there's very minimal health risk," Ken Derksen, public information officer for the school system said this morning.

Derksen said there was likely "such a small amount" that parents need not worry.

Federal officials have also been reassuring, saying the beef posed little hazard to consumers and that no reports of illness have been made.

The recall came on the heels of the USDA's announcement of an ongoing investigation into Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company, alleging that cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection. Nationwide, 143 million pounds of beef were recalled, with an estimated 126,000 pounds reportedly distributed in 25 districts across North Carolina.

In addition to Wayne County, neighboring Duplin, Lenoir, Greene, Sampson and Johnston counties were also on the list. Approximately half of the districts across the state had already served some of the meat in question, reports said, using it in such dishes as tacos, hot dog chili and spaghetti sauce.

Derksen said when the district learned of the recall, cafeteria workers at individual schools immediately began taking inventory of their stocks.

"We found very minimal amounts. Out of 33 schools, 12.6 cases of hot dog chili and 2.5 cases of taco meat that were purchased," he said

Products were immediately pulled from the cafeteria shelves, Derksen said.

"Right now I think they're being held, as the child nutrition department awaits final confirmation of what to do from the USDA," he said.

In the meantime, officials remain positive about the situation.

"I don't think that parents should worry," Derksen said. "Health experts have assured us that there's very little reason for concern. ...

"We're doing what we have been asked to do by pulling these (items) off the shelves."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a California slaughterhouse, the subject of an animal-abuse investigation, that provided meat to school lunch programs. It was the largest beef recall in the United States, surpassing a 1999 ban of 35 million pounds of ready-to-eat meats. No illnesses have been linked to the newly recalled meat.Schoool meat