Beef for schools headed to landfill
Nearly 270,000 pounds of meat will go to landfills and the state will be reimbursed for it
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State officials have ordered all Hawaii public schools and some private schools to dump nearly 270,000 pounds of beef, citing concerns over whether meat from sick or injured animals entered the National School Lunch Program.
The move came a week after federal investigators found evidence that workers at Westland/Hallmark Meat Co.'s slaughterhouse in Chino, Calif., may have allowed nonambulatory cattle into the plant.
The findings led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to announce a national recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef because downed animals are at a higher risk of carrying disease.
Isle schools, which put Westland meat on hold since the Humane Society released videos of the alleged safety and health violations by Westland, are scheduled to toss 266,670 pounds of fine ground beef received from the company by the end of next week, said Sue Uyehara, director of the Education Department's Office of Hawaii Child Nutrition Programs.
She said most of the recalled beef remains stored in warehouses across the state, and there have been no illnesses traced to Westland food.
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Hawaii public schools and some private schools will dump nearly 270,000 pounds of beef they got from a California company that is now under fire for alleged animal cruelty and violation of food safety rules, state officials said yesterday.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found evidence of health violations at Westland/Hallmark Meat Co.'s slaughterhouse in Chino, Calif., and ordered a national recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef.
The federal probe into Westland was launched last month after the Humane Society released undercover videos of plant workers forcing "downed" cows -- those considered too weak or injured to walk -- into a slaughterhouse.
Isle schools, which have been storing Westland meat as a precaution pending results of the investigation, are scheduled to toss 266,670 pounds of fine ground beef received from Westland through the government's National School Lunch Program by the end of next week, said Sue Uyehara, director of the Education Department's Office of Hawaii Child Nutrition Programs.
There have been no illnesses traced to the recalled meat, Uyehara said.
Most of the recalled beef in Hawaii, 84 percent, is still stored in 40-pound cases in warehouses across the state, she said. Public schools have already picked up about 15 percent of the beef, while private schools enrolled in the government's lunch program have taken less than 1 percent of the food to their cafeterias.
"The good news in this case is that the bulk of the product never left the warehouse," Uyehara said.
Public schools will still serve hamburgers, beef and bean burritos and other meat-based lunches with food the Education Department gets from other companies, officials said. The USDA also will ship to Hawaii meat from another vendor.
Last year, Hawaii got 360,000 pounds of Westland meat, the 10th-highest consumer among 36 states, USDA figures show. Most of that shipment, about 76 percent, came to Honolulu, followed by Hilo, Kahului and Lihue.
The state Department of Health will oversee the schools' meat disposal with local landfill representatives because of the large amount of food involved, said Lynn Nakasone, program manager for the Health Department's Food and Drug Branch.
"If you are talking a large amount, they might have to dig a special hole," she said.
The USDA will reimburse the state for the cost of transporting meat boxes to landfills, Uyehara said.