School district pulls beef from its menu

The Oak Harbor School District pulled beef from its school lunch menus after learning it may have received beef from “downed” cows that originated in Southern California.

Joe Hunt, district communications director, said beef was removed from the menu Friday morning after staff learned of the situation.

Food service workers were busy checking to see if the school district received any of the suspected beef.

Although televised news reports have said the Oak Harbor School District may have been among those that received the questionable beef, the district doesn’t have any records showing that. Nevertheless, staff thoroughly checked the products to make sure.

“Our records show the school district didn’t receive any beef, but we will double check it anyway,” said Ken Harrison, newly-hired food service director.

Staff planned to check boxes of beef stored at the school district’s warehouse, Oak Harbor High School, both middle schools, and Olympic View Elementary School.

Students found a changed menu Friday. Workers pulled the hamburgers that were set to be served at the middle and high schools and the “meat-lover’s” pizza that was set to be served at the elementary schools.

“Until the school district is sure the product they have is safe, they aren’t going to serve it,” Harrison said.

Pulling the beef from school cafeterias stems from an undercover investigation conducted by the Humane Society of the United States. The organization alleges it found mistreatment of “downed” dairy cows — ones that are too sick or injured to walk — at the Hallmark Meat Packing Plant in Southern California. Beef from that plant supplies Westland Meat Company, which processes the carcasses and supplies school districts in 39 states with beef. The USDA banned downed cows from entering the food supply.

The United States Department of Agriculture has promised an investigation into this matter, which received widespread media coverage of the downed cows being forced into the food chain.

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