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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news June 24, 2016

2/22/2008 1:01:00 AM
No bad beef in area schools
Ground beef removed from menus Jan. 31
Denise Briedenbach
Denise Briedenbach

Philip Wright
Staff Reporter

No potentially tainted beef has been or will be served in Cottonwood-Oak Creek or Clarkdale-Jerome school district cafeterias. In fact, no beef is on either district's menus in the near future.

More than 150 million pounds of ground beef has been recalled by federal officials.

That meat may not have been tainted, but because of how one processor was handling live animals before processing, some ground beef could have been tainted.

What some people may not understand from news reports is that, with few exceptions, that meat was probably not a threat to the general public.

It wasn't likely that the potentially tainted beef would show up in a grocery meat section or restaurant.

Most of that meat was part of a commodity distribution program for public schools.

On Jan. 31, Denise Briedenbach, food service director for C-OC, got a phone call and email from the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to put a hold on all ground beef processed by Westland Meat Company.

"They said these products should be on hold immediately," Briedenbach said.

She said Westland Meats was immediately suspended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a commodity supplier. The USDA provides commodity food items, such as meat, fruit, vegetables and cheese, to school districts throughout the United States. The ADE told districts to keep all of the meat in freezers.

"Denise was on the beef issue immediately," said Barbara U'Ren, district superintendent.

"I just didn't take any chances," Briedenbach said.

She removed all beef from the district's menus.

The district had 120 cases of ground-beef patties and 60 cases of ground beef. "I told every manager to put an "H" on it if it's in their school," Briedenbach said.

Now she's waiting for someone to come and dump the meat or take it away. She said the district would not use any of that meat.

Clarkdale-Jerome School District didn't get stuck with meat in its freezer. "We were fortunate," Superintendent Kathleen Fleenor said. "We didn't have any on hand."

When her district was notified, Fleenor sent a notice to each student's home explaining the situation with the beef.

"We won't be serving any beef until this is taken care of," Fleenor said.

Briedenbach said the beef scare likely will affect the district's menus through the end of this school year. But beef could return to the district's menus.

"They've already allocated a safe lot," Briedenbach said.

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