RED BANK SCHOOLS GOT RECALLED BEEF

The Red Bank school district was among 170 statewide that received beef products involved in the nation’s largest-ever meat recall, today’s Star-Ledger reports.

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There’s no word yet from the district about when the beef arrived here. Officials said the meat in question was distributed up to two years ago and most of it is believed to have been consumed. Health officials say they have no reports of illness connected to the questionable meat.

The Sledger reports that districts that received the “hamburger patties, barbecue nuggets, taco meat and other lunch items traced back to the nation’s largest meat recall must inform state officials by today whether they still retain” any of it.

From the story:

The state Department of Agriculture yesterday identified more than 170 school districts that received meat products from three processing plants supplied by the California packing plant — now the focus of a federal investigation — and any remaining beef must be destroyed within two weeks.

The scope of the schools affected was unprecedented, cutting a wide swath across the state, including urban, suburban and parochial schools — from Atlantic City to Allamuchy, as well as at least one Newark daycare center. (The full list was posted at the department’s website at nj.gov/agriculture/pdf/beefrecalllist.pdf.)

Agriculture Commissioner Charles Kuperus said there have been no reports of any children becoming sick from eating food products linked to the company. The frozen packages were delivered — and assumed to have been consumed — as long as two years ago.

According to the department, 168,000 pounds of ground beef from Hallmark/Westland Meat Co., of Chino, Calif., came into the state between February 2006 and this month from three major processing plants identified as suppliers to New Jersey schools through the National School Lunch Program.

Officials in at least two New Jersey districts that found the meat in their freezers complained to the Sledger about the recall notices. In addition, a state legislator is promising a probe.

State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex), who first raised questions about the recalled meat products a week ago, said he plans to push for legislative hearings on the entire notification and recall process in New Jersey.

“How do they know no kids got sick? Parents don’t even know about it,” he said. “We’re going to have to take a more active role.”

The nationwide meat recall was ordered after an undercover video from the Humane Society of the United States surfaced more than a month ago showing crippled and sick animals at Hallmark/Westland Meat being shoved with forklifts into the slaughterhouse.

Other Monmouth County districts said to have received the beef are Atlantic Highlands, Bradley Beach, Eatontown, Keansburg, Keyport, Matawan-Aberdeen Regional, Middletown, Monmouth Regional, Neptune City and Ocean Township.

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