Officials: Truckee restaurants served recalled beef
January 15, 2004
Three Truckee restaurants served beef that was recalled due to possible mad cow disease contamination, according to an announcement this week by the Nevada County Department of Environmental Health.The names of the restaurants have not been released by health officials, due to an agreement between the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and California Department of Health Services, which considers recall distribution lists naming proprietors an exemption of the Freedom of Information Act.The restaurants served the beef before the USDA announced the recall, which occurred after a cow from a Washington state farm tested positive for mad cow disease.No Truckee grocery stores sold recalled meat, health officials said.”The county and the restaurants themselves did not know they had recalled beef until after the recall,” said Nevada County Director of Environmental Health Larry Sage. “It was very much after the fact.”USDA officials said they knew which restaurants had recalled beef weeks ago, after following beef distribution records from the infected cow’s herd.”We have known for weeks where the meat was distributed in California,” said Steven Cohen, spokesman for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.The USDA passed the information to the state, which in turn handed down the list of restaurants to county health officials on Jan. 2. The only Nevada County restaurants implicated were in Truckee, health officials said.The recall is Class II, meaning the health risk of contracting mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is extremely remote.”It is important that people know, so far as we know, there is absolute minimal risk at this point,” Sage said.The Sierra Sun talked to Jake McCormick – general manager at Blue Coyote Bar & Grill, which was not named in the announcement – about restaurant communication with health officials during the recall.McCormick said he has not heard anything from the USDA or health officials about serving recalled beef before the recall at his restaurant. He said health officials were fairly thorough in checking with Blue Coyote and its distributor to be sure the restaurant did not have recalled beef in its possession.”We were notified by our distributor that there was some beef being recalled, and I checked to see if it matched any of the numbers (dates) they gave me, and they didn’t,” McCormick said. “Then I got two follow-up calls, one from the USDA and one from Nevada County.””They (health officials) covered their bases very well with me,” he added. “Some people might have thought it was too much, but they were being careful.”For more information on the beef recall and mad cow disease, check out http://www.usda.gov. Food and safety questions should be directed to (888) MPHotline.More on mad cow– Mad cow is the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).– The USDA announced first incidence of BSE in the United States on Dec. 23, 2003 at Vern’s Moses Lake Meats in Washington state. All beef from that farm was recalled the day the findings were made public.– Mad cow has been transmitted to humans by eating nervous system materials from infected animals. To date, there is no evidence that eating the most commonly consumed parts, the muscle cuts or muscle meats, from cows infected with BSE pose a risk.– There are no tests to diagnose whether a person has eaten infected meat and no preventative treatment.– The recall that affected beef sellers in Truckee and nationwide is Class II, meaning the health risk of eating recalled beef is considered by the USDA to be very remote.– The USDA recalled meat produced on the day that the BSE-positive cow was slaughtered.Information compiled from the USDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.