O.C. school districts ban beef

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While Cal State Fullerton students can still enjoy eating hearty, beefy meals on campus, others are not so lucky.

Hamburgers, tacos, hot dogs and other beef related food items are temporarily banned from several Orange County school districts after a Chino slaughterhouse warning.

Local school districts were notified by the California Department of Education via email January 31 to stop the distribution of beef items provided by Westland Meat Company, a main supplier to the National School Lunch Program.

Westland Meat Co., a Chino-based food supplier, and its partner, the Hallmark Meat Packing Co., have been recently caught on video treating weak cows inhumanely.

The undercover video shot by the Humane Society of the U.S. captured downed cows being beaten, dragged by forklifts, shocked and sprayed with water in an effort to get them standing.

Cattle that are unable to stand or walk must be humanely euthanized or removed from the premises, according to California law. The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits processing meat from sick cattle.

“I think morally and ethically it is wrong,” Chris Cabrera, a CSUF senior finance major said. “I would avoid beef and try to eat healthier.”

In order to comply with state law the Magnolia School District and Garden Grove Unified School District discontinued serving beef upon request. However, they are only two examples of the several districts impacted by the slaughterhouse warning.

Both districts already had set menus for the month of February, but had to rearrange them immediately.

“It was a nightmare, but we always have an emergency supply of food,” said Karen Papilli, Garden Grove Unified’s director of food services.

“About a week ago, students were to be served sloppy joes but instead they received a chicken salad,” said Susan Sealy, Magnolia School District’s director of food services. Next week’s beef teriyaki dippers are being replaced with chicken teriyaki tenders.

However, Titans and all those who dine on campus can continue eating beef related items.

“Fortunately, none of our vendors purchase beef from this company [Westland] that has been shut down by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service,” said Tony Lynch, CSUF’s director of campus dining.

Lynch assured CSUF’s dining services has never carried beef products by Westland. Currently, CSUF’s beef provider is Fresno Beef Co. and Miller Packing Co. from Lodi, a San Joaquin County supplier.

Lynch continued to explain that if CSUF encountered the same scenario as other local districts, the campus would “immediately pull the product from operations and work to communicate any issues that would warrant attention to customers.”

Garden Grove Unified, however, is working closely with processing vendors. The vendors will examine commodity beef, a homogeneous product without brand association, to determine if it contains any Westland beef. If there are no traces of Westland beef, then it will be considered safe for consumption.

“[It really has] nothing to do with the wholesomeness of beef, but with the humane treatment of it,” Papilli said.

Until further notice from the California Department of Education and the USDA, local districts will increase offerings of other non-beef related items.

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