More on the shipments of potentially tainted beef to public schools, including Plainfield's.
Thursday afternoon, the school district forwarded to me a memo from Sodexho, the company contracted to operate the district's cafeterias, concerning the ground beef recall -- view the memo online here.
Briefly, the USDA put a hold on this ground beef on January 30. Suppliers who had received the product -- including Sodexho -- were to notify end users such as the Plainfield schools to put the product on hold. This was done.
On February 17, the USDA mandated the destruction of the ground beef, and the memo says Sodexho and the district complied.
There is no mention in the memo of whether or not any of the suspect beef was ever served in the school's cafeterias, though the memo says there have been no reports of illness alleged to the ground beef product. Nevertheless, Sodexho and the district have suspended serving ANY beef products until further notice, replacing beef with turkey, chicken or pork.
You may recall that the whole episode began with the posting of a video on YouTube showing the producer in question -- Westland/Hallmark -- processing 'downed' cattle. (You can watch the YouTube video here. Warning: Graphic content!) These are cattle that are too sick or weak to walk into the slaughtering process. The video exposed inhumane treatment that is banned, including using electric shocks to force the cattle to stand and move. One shot showed a forklift lifting an animal and moving it forward. Sick animals could potentially taint the food supply.
The USDA, which is supposed to monitor these facilities, did NOT act until after the matter was exposed on YouTube.
In case you think that the USDA is really watching out for those of us at the end of the supply chain, you will be disabused by a story (see here) in Friday's Washington Post, where Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer told Congress Thursday --
that he would not endorse an outright ban on "downer" cows entering the food supply or back stiffer penalties for regulatory violations by meat-processing plants...Your government servants, working for you.
Makes you feel real safe, doesn't it?
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