Just to be on safe side, beef gets heave-ho


Potentially unsafe beef products have been yanked off of school lunch menus in the Lake Oswego School District until further notice.

The scare comes after undercover video surfaced last week of sick cattle being mistreated at a giant meat-packing plant, Westlund Meat Packing Co., out of Chino, Calif.

Workers there were secretly videotaped by the Humane Society of the U.S. officials jabbing and abusing cows who couldn't get up. The video also showed workers using a small tractor to move the cows from pens to slaughter.

State officials warned all Oregon school districts to inspect their uncooked ground beef last Thursday after an investigation said it could be contaminated.

The warning comes because it's against federal law to process for consumption meat from animals too weak to walk.

More than 70 Oregon school districts get their meat from this particular California company. The LOSD was not included in the list released of the Oregon schools that were told to hold ground beef from Westlund.

District officials do not believe that their beef products come from the company, but are erring on the side of caution.

On lunch menus Monday, district officials replaced beef teryaki with chicken teriyaki and will substitute chicken sandwiches for burgers for the time being.

All beef products will be kept off district lunch lines until further notice, according to district food services director Sharon Morgan.

The district is currently researching if its beef products, which come from Pierre's Meat Co., have any connection to Westlund. All products can be traced back to their origins, but it takes some time, Morgan said.

'My guess is that we will be finding out by the end of this week,' Morgan added. 'Right now we believe the company we bought the beef from has not been affected.'

A letter from Pierre indicated that beef patties, meatballs and ground beef were safe, but two other products are still in question.

Morgan would not disclose what those two products are.

Riverdale School District was not affected by the scare, according to Superintendent Thomas Hagerman.

'Four Seasons Flavor, our catering service, uses only hormone- and chemical-free meat from local farmers,' he said.

Westlund Meat has now been kicked out of the national school food program that supplies federally paid-for food to districts around the country.