By Lisa Loomis
Two local school food service programs received and served some of the beef recalled by the USDA this week, before getting notice to first quarantine and then destroy the meat.
The USDA recalled 143 million pounds of beef from a California slaughterhouse accused of animal abuse. Beef from the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company was sent to Vermont schools through a free food subsidy program.
Harwood Union and the Fayston Elementary School received shipments of the beef. The food service program at Fayston provides meals for the Waitsfield Elementary School as well.
At Harwood Union, chef and food service director Paul Morris said the school received eight 40-pound cases and had used 100 pounds of it before getting a warning to put the meat "on hold" on January 31.
The meat was used at Harwood on January 11, 14 and 28 in meat lasagna, tacos and chili, respectively.
"I saw the warning on the news and the next day we received the warning from the state telling us to put a hold on the meat. At that point we suspended its use immediately. We threw the rest of it out this week after we got confirmation from the state," Morris said.
Morris said this was the second time in this school year that the school had received beef from the federal subsidy program. He said the school also receives pasta, flour and fruit from the subsidy program, as well as other types of meat, such as pork and turkey.
At the Fayston school, Principal Chris Dodge said the school received a shipment of the beef between six weeks and two months ago.
"Three or four weeks ago we received notification from the government surplus folks and were told to put the beef on hold. At that point we disposed of the beef, thinking that if it's questionable enough to be put on hold, we don't want to put it out at all," Dodge said.
Then the school received notification this week that its beef was part of the recall. Fayston received about 70 pounds of the beef and had used 40 pounds of it when the meat was put on hold.
Andreas Lehner at the Warren Elementary School said Warren did not receive any of the meat.
(edit: last pgh removed from web version of story for accuracy)