Several area school districts received beef from a California company beef supplier accused of animal cruelty, the Minnesota Department of Education announced Thursday.
The United States Department of Agriculture has indefinitely suspended the Westland Hallmark Meat Co. as a supplier to federal food and nutrition programs pending an investigation into inhumane handling of non-ambulatory disabled cattle. Following USDA directions, state education officials asked Minnesota school superintendents to place a hold on all beef products from this supplier.
Many Minnesota schools, including the Brainerd School District, set aside tons of ground beef late last week and took it off their menus after state officials told them not to use it. The Brainerd district only had one isolated box of the beef and school officials said last week that they purchase raw beef elsewhere and divert it to another processor.
The state education department reported that 374 schools and organizations in the state likely received Westland beef. Of those schools and organizations, the state contacted them and instructed them on how to isolate the beef products. The majority of the Westland beef that was sent to Minnesota was likely served to students before the USDA issued its advisory, said state education Deputy Commissioner Chas Anderson in a news release.
Based on information gathered by state education officials, about 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 state also identified about 15,500 pounds of Westland beef that was delivered to Minnesota schools as processed products, including beef crumbles and hamburger patties and this also has been isolated.
According to state education officials, area school districts that likely received the Westland beef include Aitkin, Brainerd, Cass Lake-Bena, Crosby-Ironton, Isle, Little Falls, McGregor, Pequot Lakes, Pierz, Pine River-Backus, Staples-Motley, Wadena-Deer Creek, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley and individual schools and organizations including Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School in Bena, Port of Crow Wing County Inc. in Brainerd and St. Ann's School in Wadena.
Area school districts with Westland beef on hold include: Brainerd, Little Falls, McGregor, Pierz and also Port of Crow Wing County Inc. of Brainerd,
The state expects a decision regarding the status of the unused product from the USDA within the next several days.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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