Tainted beef sent to N.M. schools ordered destroyed

Santa Fe, New Mexico (AP) 2-08

Nearly 3,000 cases of newly recalled beef were sent to New Mexico schools that participate in the federal school lunch program.

The state Human Services Department said Feb. 19, that 2,772 cases still are in school warehouse inventories and must be destroyed. Each case holds 40 pounds of beef.

The department received three shipments of the beef from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in October and December. The shipments were delivered to 46 public and private school districts and 10 U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs schools in New Mexico.

The Human Services Department sent out e-mail notices to the schools, letting them know how to dispose of the beef, said department spokeswoman Betina Gonzales McCracken.

The schools must destroy the product in accordance with guidelines set by the state Environment DepartmentÂ’s Environmental Health Division.

Any school that has 50 cases of beef or less can destroy the product onsite by rendering it unfit for human consumption. If a school has more than 50 cases, those must be taken to a landfill, incinerated or sent to inedible rendering.

The USDA had instructed the state Human Services Department to dispose of the beef that came from Chino, Calif.-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co.

The California slaughterhouse is the subject of an animal abuse investigation after an undercover video from the Humane Society of the United States surfaces showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts.

The state Human Services Department notified New Mexico schools during early Febuary to place all inventoried beef from the slaughterhouse on hold until further notice.

McCracken said the agency has not received any reports of illnesses as a result of eating the tainted beef.

She said the USDA will credit the schools for the shipments of recalled beef.