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Jackson, Forsyth schools pull possibly tainted meat from menus

POSTED: February 24, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Jackson and Forsyth county school systems are among Georgia school districts that have been ordered to stop serving beef supplied by a California slaughterhouse under federal investigation for mistreating animals.

Georgia Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox says 28 districts so far have pulled the meat after the U.S. Department of Agriculture alerted state officials that it could be tainted.

Cox says officials won’t know for sure whether the meat was tainted until Tuesday when federal authorities finish their investigation into the Chino, Calif.-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co.

The order doesn’t affect Gainesville or Hall County schools, but it has gotten the attention of area nutrition directors.

"I have a call into our vendor to check on the meat we purchase," said Jane Poulsen, Gainesville’s nutrition director.

And Cookie Palmer, who heads Hall’s nutrition department, said officials "have been monitoring this issue since it was brought to our attention" by U.S. Department of Agriculture officials on Jan. 31.

"We have contacted all of our beef suppliers, and we do not have any of the product that has been placed on hold," she said. "We will remain in contact with USDA and (Food Service and Inspection Service), as well as our state agencies, until they complete their investigation."

The district’s main beef supplier, Chicago-based Pierre Foods, has "assured us that we have not received any of this product," Palmer said.

Pierre processes "all of our beef products and sends it to the Cooperative Purchasing Agency in Cleveland, (which) has freezer storage space and sends it to us as we need it," Superintendent Will Schofield said.

Shannon Adams, superintendent of Jackson County schools, deferred comment to school nutrition director Wanda Oliver, who could not be reached for comment.

Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for Forsyth County schools, also could not be reached for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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