Monthly Archives: February 2008

School Beef Scare Update by District

The USDA has extended a hold on questionable meat that may have been distributed to schools throughout the western United States, including Kitsap and North Mason counties. A story on the USDA’s decision and the local response will run Saturday in the Kitsap Sun.

As a story that ran last week reported, the meat is not necessarily unhealthy, but the way in which the animals were slaughtered, as shown in an undercover video, is against Federal regulations for health reasons (not to mention inhumane). USDA officials are in the process of documenting whether or not the meat is fit to eat.

Find a statement from the company under investigation here.

To cut to the chase, all local districts have completed reviewing their beef inventories, any questionable beef that was found has been pulled until the investigation is complete, and beef is now back on the menu everywhere except Bainbridge Island.

I didn’t have room in the story to give details on each district. Here they are:

Bremerton School District
No meat from the plant under investigation was found among the district’s inventory. Meat was off the menu this week, but school lunches should return to the normal, printed schedule next week, according to a press release from the district.
“The Bremerton School District’s Child Nutrition Department has obtained letters from our meat distributors which prove that there is no link between our meat supply and the company that has recently been in the news. We took these extra precautions to ensure the safety of the food we serve to our students and staff,” said spokeswoman Krista Carlson.

North Mason School District
“We have on hold in our freezer 10 cases of beef patties (15# each). At Food Services of America we have 224 cases of beef (15# each) on hold,” said Superintendent David Peterson.
“We have about thirty cases of beef product in our freezer that are not on the Hold list. We are using this beef in our school meals. We have not discarded any beef. We have marked the ‘on hold’ cases and are keeping them separate from other product, until we hear from OSPI.
Our salesman from FSA has reassured us that the FSA beef products are not from the Westland Company. When we do need to purchase any beef products, I feel safe about buying the FSA Brand.”

Bainbridge Island School District
“No questionable meat was in our stocks,” said Pam Keyes, district spokeswoman. “There has been no beef on our menus, and there will not be until further notice. Our food service director is awaiting further information he desires, which could come at any time. However, until he has resolved questions, we are erring on the side of caution.”

South Kitsap School District
“We are holding some products identified by OSPI and the USDA that needed to be held until further notice. We still are serving meat items, just not those individuals products,” said Aimee Warthen, district spokeswoman.

North Kitsap School District
“We have nothing new this week. The inventory is complete, we have only one product that is on hold,” said spokeswoman Chris Case.

Central Kitsap School District
The district has found some of the product that the USDA has put on hold. Beef from other shipments is still on the menu. District spokesman David Beil said that food service staff use case and lot numbers to identify when and where the beef was processed.

Lantz and Seaquist Weigh in on “Oke” Bridge

Last week the state Senate Transportation Committee moved along a bill to rename the Tacoma Narrows Bridge after the late Bob Oke. Oke, a South Kitsap resident, was a long-time 26th District senator and one of the main proponents of building a second span across Puget Sound between the Kitsap Peninsula and Tacoma. There is not yet a time line for the bill to be heard on the Senate floor.

Three state senators representing Kitsap and North Mason – Sens. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island, and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch – are listed as sponsors of SJM 8026. Oke was a Republican.

Following the committee hearing, at which Oke’s widow Judy Oke testified, she said she was fairly confident that the bill would pass in the Senate, but she wasn’t so sure about the House of Representatives.

Both current 26th District representatives, Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, and Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, are officially opposed to the proposal.

Lantz, in an e-mail, said she’s against renaming the bridge at all.
“Now, as to the issue itself. I, too, think the bridge is already perfectly named. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge or just the Narrows Bridge is a dignified, descriptive and historically rooted name that will serve us well for generations to come. We will find other opportunities to honor Senator Oke and naming the park (presumably Long Lake County Park) for him might be one of them.”

Seaquist was emphatic in his stance on the idea.

“I have the greatest admiration for Bob Oke as a senator,” Seaquist said. “I am firmly (he emphasized the word ‘firmly’) opposed to the idea of renaming the bridge. I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to get into the business of naming bridges.”

Seaquist said his perception of the “overwhelming view” among his constituents is that they are against naming the bridge for Oke, not all necessarily because of the price of tolls, he added.