Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Latest Information on Concerns about Meat Coming from Westland Meat Co.

State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox held a press conference on Wednesday, February 13 regarding concerns about meat products from a California slaughterhouse. Here is the latest information:

On January 31, the Georgia Department of Education’s (GaDOE) School Nutrition Program received an alert from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The alert said an advocacy group had filmed “downer cattle” at a slaughterhouse, Westland Meat Company in California. There is no indication at this point that this cattle was used in meat processing or that there was anything wrong with the cattle.

The GaDOE IMMEDIATELY notified our public school systems of the alert. The GaDOE also IMMEDIATELY began working with processing plants that use Westland meat in products that are sent to Georgia school systems. Over the next several days, GaDOE received information – including lot numbers – from three processing plants about products that may have contained meat from Westland.

As we have received this information, GaDOE has told school systems to pull products that have the identified lot numbers. So far, 28 school systems have said they have some of the identified products. USDA is continuing to investigate Westland and has told GaDOE they will have findings by February 19.

There is no evidence at this point that any tainted meat was sent to a Georgia school system. We will find out more information on February 19 from USDA, but until then we are using an abundance of caution. Also, we have received no reports of food-borne illness at our schools either.

As we get more information, we will notify our school systems and the public.

List of school systems that have reported receiving products possibly containing Westland meat (as of February 13)

Here is the USDA's Jan. 30 press statement regarding Westland:
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB/.cmd/ad/.ar/sa.retrievecontent/.c/6_2_1UH/.ce/7_2_5JM/.p/5_2_4TQ/.d/2/_th/J_2_9D/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?PC_7_2_5JM_contentid=2008%2F01%2F0025.xml&PC_7_2_5JM_parentnav=LATEST_RELEASES&PC_7_2_5JM_navid=NEWS_RELEASE#7_2_5JM

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