Local schools taking precautions against recalled beef

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Graphic undercover video has led to the largest beef recall in U.S. history.

Federal authorities have ordered the recall of a staggering 143 million pounds of frozen beef from the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company. Some was shipped to fast food chains and an estimated 37 million pounds went to school lunch programs.

About 30 school systems across Tennessee already had been asked to hold off on serving the meat.

Here's a list of those schools in our region: Anderson County, Blount County, Episcopal School of Knoxville, Jefferson County, Knox County, Monroe County, Oneida City Schools, Roane County, Sevier County, Unicoi County, Union County.

Now the U.S. Humane Society is asking questions, and the Knox County Schools are keeping an eye out for recalled meat.

It's video seen around the nation.

"They wrapped chains around the animals' legs and dragging them, they were hitting them with heavy equipment like forklifts," said Wayne Pacelle, the CEO of the Humane Society.

Images shot by the U.S. Humane Society.

"You know, it's really outrageous that it took a non-government organization to uncover these abuses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture gets tax dollars to place inspectors on the ground at these plants to prevent these abuses from occurring," Pacelle said

Pacelle believes the investigation lays bare all sorts of oversight problems with the current inspection program. That there should be a new standard dealing with downer cows.

"We should have an absolute prohibition on slaughtering any downer cows, animals too sick or injured to walk, from being slaughtered for human consumption," Pacelle said.

The recalled ground beef got into the Knox County School System. A 30 pound case at West Valley Middle.

"It's set aside until usda tells us what they want us to do with it," Knox County School Spokesman Russ Oaks said.

There's no way to tell if recalled shipments were consumed previously in Knox County Schools, but the recalled beef usually needs additional processing, and Knox County Schools get beef already in patties and meatballs.

"Potential for us having this previously is very slim," Oaks said.

But they will take extra precautions to make sure your children are safe.

"Of course we'll check shipments that come in to make sure there's none there," Oaks said.

While Knox County watches shipments, the USDA will continue to investigate these images.

There are no reports of anyone getting sick. Two former employees face felony charges for cruelty to animals. No charges have been filed against the plant owners.

An investigation is still underway.

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