Hayden beef not part of recall effort

School officials dispose of meat as precautionary measure

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— The Hayden School District did not possess beef that was part of a massive U.S. Department of Agriculture recall last weekend. Rather, school officials discarded 30 pounds of meat from the same California slaughterhouse that was part of the recall strictly as a precautionary measure.

On Sunday, the USDA recalled 143 million pounds of meat from Chino, Calif.-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. The recall was announced after the Humane Society of the United States released undercover video showing crippled and sick animals at the slaughterhouse being shoved with forklifts. The recall affects beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006.

Nancy Spencer, Hayden's director of food services, clarified Thursday that she discarded 30 pounds of meat from Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. only as a precautionary measure. The meat was not part of the recall.

Hayden Superintendent Mike Luppes said the Colorado Department of Education previously contacted school officials about the possibility of tainted meat from Westland.

"There had been some previous warning of this coming up," he said. "The meat we had from them was not used, and once those concerns were raised before the recall, Nancy decided to get rid of the meat, regardless of the recall."

The South Routt School District did receive meat that was part of the recall, and officials there said they plan to dispose of 90 pounds of recalled meat. The Steamboat Springs School District did not receive any of the recalled meat.

USDA officials estimate about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, and they believe most of the meat already has been consumed. No illnesses have been linked to the recalled meat, and officials said the health threat likely was small.

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com

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