Seems folks really do read this blog — the last post got me a full inbasket of primary documents, verrrry interrrresting… the undercurrent of concern is strong, with the primary focus that “No instances of illness have been reported…” but we all know incubation takes a long time.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I must confess that I was a meat hauler for a lot of years, hauling tubs and boxed meat from the Midwest to California, and I’ve spent way too much time siting around slaughter houses waiting to get loaded… er… waiting for the truck to get loaded, so I have a fair amount of first hand knowledge of what goes on there.  Needless to say, I’m essentially a vegetarian.

Overall, it seems the Dept. of Education got right on it.  On one hand, it’s a good thing that the MN Dept. of Education went public and brought this beef with beef to our attention. It’s good they got on the schools and had it inventoried. It looks like it was just a one day exercise, with this update a week later, so that’s not too bad.  St. Paul, New York City and Cos Cob are a few others districts that have taken action.  On the other hand, what do we expect!  Given federal inspections are nominal at best, we’ve got a problem here, folks… it’s not like this is something they could hide…  For years, the industry has been recommending irradiation of meat rather than clean up, and disregard for basic common sense practices, much less regulations, shouldn’t surprise us.

Here’s the article from L.A. Times:

USDA’s oversight of meat safety critcized

Here’s what the Dept. of Education sent out, but notice WHEN they got this update out, conveniently AFTER everyone had shut down for the day:

The attached memo and lists went to Minnesota superintendents a few minutes ago. Here are the highlights:

* No instances of illness have been reported in connection to this product and there is also no other evidence at this time that this product represents an increased health risk. If impacted districts become aware of illness potentially related to this product, we encourage them to contact the Minnesota Department of health immediately at: 651-201-5414.

* On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Education released a list of schools and organizations that have potentially received Westland beef. As a result of our efforts to contact school districts, distributors and processors to identify the location of this product, we have been able to narrow that list down to 374 schools and organizations that likely received Westland beef. (Attachment #1)

* Of the schools and organizations that received Westland beef, we have identified 120 that currently have unused product. (Attachment #2) We have contacted those schools and organizations and instructed them on how to isolate the product.
The majority of the Westland beef that was sent to Minnesota was likely served to students before the USDA issued its advisory. Based on the information that has been gathered by the Minnesota Department of Education, approximately 60,000 pounds of the initial 240,000 pounds of Westland raw beef sent to Minnesota has not been used and has been isolated.

* The Department of Education has also been able to identify approximately 15,500 pounds of Westland beef that was delivered to Minnesota schools as processed products, including beef crumbles and hamburger patties. That identified product has also been isolated.

* Today, we will be reporting the information we have collected to the USDA, which is compiling information by region to determine how much of the product remains in the food distribution supply chain.
Based on its investigation, the USDA will make a decision, regarding the status of unused product. We expect their decision within the next several days and will keep you up-to-date.

Christine Dufour
Deputy Communications Director
Minnesota Department of Education
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, Mn 55113
Ph.: 651.582.8720
Cell: 612.306.0895

Dept. of Health Beef – Feb 7 2008

Schools that likely received Westland Beef

Schools with Westland Beef on hold

So it seems likely that the schools on the “likely” list that aren’t on the “hold” list have served up that beef.

Meanwhile, Westland Hallmark Meat Company has suspended operations. SEE WESTLAND WEB PAGE

One thing I don’t understand is why the district would buy beef from all the way out there, pay for shipping at over $2,000 a truckload, increasing the cost by about $0.225/lb. Oh well… guess it’s like thinking those in Illinois would buy SD or MN wind and pay for the transmission when they’ve got 10,000MW in the MISO queue.

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