Recalled Beef Not a Worry, El Tejon Schools Chief Says

By Patric Hedlund

On Friday, Feb. 19 the Kern County Department of Public Health sounded the alarm about 4.9 million pounds of beef products being recalled by Huntington Meat Packing company. A criminal investigation is underway regarding meat products potentially contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 at that plant.

The Mountain Enterprise confirmed Monday, Feb. 22 that El Tejon Unified School District ordered product from this source in August, received it in October, then cooked and served it in December as school lunch burritos to El Tejon School, Frazier Park School and Frazier Mountain High School.

ETUSD’s Acting Superintendent Danny Whetton said the meat came through a co-op purchasing agent long before the recall alert. No illness has been reported.

Whetton said that Carleen Ekstrom, in charge of food preparation for the district, “follows protocols very carefully, to be sure meat is always cooked to 160 degrees internal temperature to eliminate any risk. The best thing we can do is to follow protocols to be sure the risk is eliminated,” Whetton said. He added that their tracking of food production sources and the purchasing chain is carefully documenting, allowing ETUSD to work with the co-op to quickly confirm they had obtained product from Huntingtion, long before the recall alerts were sounded. The district found there were 15 burritos still in the freezer from the recall source. "We disposed of them immediately," Whetton said.

This is part of the February 26, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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