The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has alerted area school districts to the recent recall of packaged beef from a California company. Governor Mifflin, Wilson, and Wyomissing Area School Districts were among the schools whose beef was recalled.The announcement was made early last week following press releases from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in addition to the state department.

The department released a list on Tuesday of 196 Pennsylvania school districts that received recalled beef products through the National School Lunch Program.

According to Mifflin's district website Governor Mifflin's Food Service Department has identified beef that was on the recall list and the district had destroyed it in compliance with the recall.

According to the district website, Mifflin will serve beef that is not on the USDA recall. Governor Mifflin Food Service follows strict cooking protocols designed to assure food safety.

On Sunday, Hallmark/Westland Meat Packaging Co., of Chino, Calif., voluntarily recalled 143 million pounds of raw and frozen beef products, according to the State Agriculture Department.

The Department of Agriculture classified the recall as a "class two" recall, saying there is only a remote chance that ingesting the beef would affect an individual's health.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer issued a response to the allegations made against the California packaging company on Sunday.

"USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has evidence that Hallmark/Westland did not consistently contact the FSIS public health veterinarian in situations in which cattle became non-ambulatory after passing ante-mortem inspection, which is not compliant with FSIS regulations," Schafer said.

"Because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection FSIS has determined them to be unfit for human food and the company is conducting a recall."

"Pennsylvania schools may have received products affected by the recall, so schools should be checking their supplies and following the recall instructions if they have the products," said the state.

Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff said in the release, "While there is very low risk to human health in this recall, it is important for all of the affected products to be separated from other foods and destroyed as a precaution."

In the release, the department called the recall "the nation's largest beef recall."

Wolff advised school districts not on the list to check their inventories if they purchased food independently.

The Department of Agriculture food safety inspectors will check for recall compliance as they inspect schools in the coming weeks.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the FSIS issued a notice of suspension based on Hallmark/Westland's failure to maintain and implement controls to prevent the inhumane handling and slaughter of animals at the facility required by the FSIS regulations and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Chris Ryder said in a phone interview Monday the United States Department of Agriculture was planning on reimbursing school districts for the recalled food.

"The USDA will reimburse the state and the state will reimburse the schools," said Ryder.

"We're sort of the go between with the schools and the USDA. The schools will submit to us the total and we'll issue the checks for reimbursement to the schools."

For more information on the recall, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture FSIS Web site at www.fsis.usda.gov.

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