Thursday, February 28, 2008

USDA Beef Recall

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notified Charles County Public Schools on Friday that it might have received two cases of frozen, precooked hamburgers affected by a recent recall. The products contain beef processed by Westland/Hallmark Meat Company, which is under investigation for animal cruelty and possible processing violations. No illnesses related to the products have been reported and federal officials said the possibility that the beef would cause illness is remote.

According to Patrick Tague, supervisor of food service, two of 122 cases of frozen hamburger patties received on Jan. 24 from Zartic Food Company were processed with meat from Westland Meat Company. The school system received information on Feb. 11 from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) that the shipment might be involved in a secondary recall as a result of the ongoing investigation into Westland's practices. Formal notification from USDA was received by email on Feb. 22.

Food service workers at all schools immediately checked inventory and the two cases, which contain 240 hamburgers each, were not found. The school system served 14,468 hamburgers between the receipt of the shipment and the date it was notified of the possible recall by MSDE. Food service managers continue to check production dates and lot numbers on all hamburgers before using any additional products from Zartic.

Superintendent James E. Richmond said, "The school system's food service department responded immediately to the recall information and is working to ensure that no other beef provided by this company is served to our students. We continue to monitor the investigation for additional information and will make any needed adjustments to our food and nutrition program. At this time, we are assured that the recall of all the meat from this processing company is precautionary."

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