February 18, 2008

12,000 of 143 Million

As in 143 million pounds. Of Beef. Recalled.

Largest beef recall ever.

From the second largest supplier of beef to the nation’s public school system.

For example, Pittsburgh Public Schools, which has 12,000 pounds of the recalled beef.

Ms. Pugh said the beef is being kept at a food-service warehouse until federal officials tell the district what to do with it. If federal officials decide it's safe, she said, it still could be used in schools.

Ms. Pugh said the beef was part of larger shipments from the vendors. Some beef already had been eaten by students. There were no reports of illness.

I wonder how much of it made its way into the tummies of school children at other local school districts?

According to the USDA, the recalled 143 million pounds of beef, the Washington Post reported, "poses little or no hazard to consumers, and ... most of it was eaten long ago."

Of course, the most disturbing aspect of this whole sordid affair is that the only reason anybody even knows that these “downer” cows -- that is, sick animals that can no longer stand because they are so freakin’ ill – were literally being fork-lifted into the food production system is because somebody from the Human Society snuck in and took video of it happening! [Video is not for the squeamish!]

There’s no evidence that any of the recalled meat is tainted with any of those pesky bacteria that can kill people. Rather, the USDA explained, the recall was taking place “because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection” and therefore were deemed by the USDA to be “unfit for human food.”

The question that has to be asked is fairly simple: Is this – forcing cows that clearly are way sick to stay upright via forklift or cattle prod so that they can technically not be considered “downers” and therefore suitable to be turned into products for human consumption -- an isolated incident? Anybody would have to be a fool to believe so.

Tired of hearing about these beef recalls? A wee-bit scared that the steaks or burgers you’re getting for surprisingly cheap still at the grocery store perhaps is a little suspect? Try something local, most likely primarily grass-fed, and definitely not “processed” in massive meatpacking plants.

Below are a few local options for beef for which I can vouch. Others can be found via Local Harvest. Although, unlike at the grocery store, this is beef done on a truly small, local scale, so product only becomes available when there is enough raw material ready!

Sojourney FarmsHolbrook, PA

Rose Ridge FarmMalvern, OH, 330-904-5365

Fergaed FarmsValenica, PA (ground beef, quarter, half, or whole cows only), Caroline Hahn at 412-585-3903 or chahn@pulva.com

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