USDA Closes School Lunch Supplier; Hot Pockets Recalled

CNN.com

February 20, 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has withdrawn its inspectors and suspended operations at a California meat company because of "insanitary conditions at the establishment," the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Wednesday.

The Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, California, supplies beef for federal school nutrition programs. In 2011, it provided nearly 21 million pounds of beef, or nearly 16% of the supply.

"The plant's suspension will be lifted once we receive adequate assurances of corrective action," a USDA statement said.

Meanwhile, Nestle USA has issued a recall of two varieties of Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets because they may contain meat the department has already recalled.

The two brands are Hot Pockets brand Philly Steak and Cheese in three different pack sizes, and Hot Pockets brand Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese in the two-pack box.

Earlier, the USDA had recalled more than 8.7 million pounds of meat from the Rancho Feeding Corp. because it "processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out these activities without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection."

No illnesses have been reported in relation to the recall.

According to Nestle, consumers should return the products to the place of purchase for a full refund or contact Nestle consumer services at 800-392-4057.

In August 2012, Central Valley Meat was closed while the USDA investigated what it called "disturbing evidence of inhumane treatment of cattle" at the supplier following its receipt of a video from an animal welfare group.

However, the USDA said at the time the video found nothing that would compromise food safety.

Central Valley Meat was cleared to reopen a few days later after the USDA said the company "committed to a number of corrective actions, including additional humane handling training for employees and safeguards."

In October, Central Valley Meat recalled more than 89,000 pounds of ground beef, saying it may contain small pieces of plastic, according to the USDA. No illnesses were reported.

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