Whether meat recall hit locally is unclear

Concern about the largest beef recall in history spread quickly in Jackson County, though it's still not clear whether any of the tainted meat was eaten locally.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recalled 143 million pounds of meat Sunday from Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., based in Chino, Calif. The situation came to light in January when videotapes showed workers at the plant slaughtering sick and injured cows.

There have been no reports of health problems and the health threats appear to be minimal.

Jeff Ashmun, senior general manager for Sodexho USA, which provides school food services in Medford, Phoenix-Talent and Ashland, said that when his company first heard about the videotapes it pulled 3,360 pounds of Westland meat Jan. 31.

"We did that unilaterally," he said. "I immediately changed the menus that day."

No ground beef has been sold since then. Ashmun said he's expecting a shipment in March from a different company, Central Valley Meat.

Ashmun said he's not sure what will happen to the suspect meat, which will either be picked up or destroyed.

If there is ever a hint of any problems with any food bought by his company, Ashmun said it isn't used.

"We don't take any chances with the health of the kids we serve," he said.

School cafeterias in Oregon received more than 170,000 pounds of beef from the Westland company that was barred in January from school lunches.

Kathleen Anthony, spokeswoman for Jack in the Box, said the amount of the questionable beef received by her company represents only a small amount of its meat supply.

While the company is trying to determine how much meat it has received, she said, "Oregon is not impacted."

Aimee Hesseling, who stopped by the Barnett Road Jack in the Box for lunch with her husband, asked at the drive-through if there were any problems with the meat.

"No ma'am," the voice said.

The 33-year-old, who was moving to Washington, ordered a meal after the assurance. "We don't usually get this kind of food," she said.

In-N-Out, another California-based company, also halted use of the meat. McDonald's and Burger King officials have said they don't buy beef from Westland.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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