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District dumping all beef

School district suspends service of beef products pending investigation of unhealthy and inhumane practices at supplier.

February 02, 2008|By Daniel Tedford

The Newport-Mesa school district has thrown out its beef products after the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture ordered the suspension of a Chino business after complaints of inhumane activities at one of the company’s slaughterhouses.

School leaders decided to dump the meat bought from the Westland Meat Company of Chino after the reports, according to Richard Green, director of nutrition services for Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

“When we see the tip of the iceberg, we put all engines in full reverse,” Green said. “We don’t want folks to panic.”

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A video obtained by the Humane Society of the United States showed two employees using electric prods to get “downed” animals on their feet, dragging cows with chains to the killing room and using forklifts to roll animals who wouldn’t stand, according to a Washington Post story.

The video, which is graphic and may be upsetting to some readers, can be seen at the U.S. Human Society website, at video.hsus.org.

The concern is that some of those “downed” animals may be sick and shouldn’t be put into the supply chain, Green said.

Those “downed” animals may be at risk of E. coli, Salmonella, or mad cow disease, according to the Humane Society.

Not all beef for the school district come from Westland Meat Company, but it is unknown how much beef from the slaughterhouse in question made it through to Newport-Mesa schools, according to Green.

The manufacturer, in conjunction with the USDA, will track all products to find which schools received meat from Westland.

Newport-Mesa elementary schools didn’t have beef on the menu for the beginning of February, by mere chance, but the district nutrition services is developing a new menu for the entire month that won’t, as a cautionary action, contain beef, according to Green.

“Safeguarding the health of kids is our primary mission,” Green said.

The Westland Meat Company posted a letter on its website acknowledging the video obtained by the Humane Society.

The employees in the video have been fired and their supervisor suspended pending further investigation.

The company has suspended operations until it meets with employees to investigate.


DANIEL TEDFORD may be reached at (714) 966-4632 or at daniel.tedford@latimes.com.

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