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Mad cow concerns hit county

Three restaurants in eastern Nevada County received and served beef that was recalled because of possible contamination from mad cow disease, the county Environmental Health Department announced Wednesday.

County officials will not divulge the names of restaurants involved, because of an agreement with the state and USDA, Nevada County Health Officer Dr. Ken Cutler said.

The recalled beef was not distributed to retail outlets, such as grocery stores, the release said.



“The recall was very precautionary. The health risk is very, very remote. The risk is exceedingly small,” Cutler said.

No one in the county has become sick from the beef, “and we don’t anticipate anyone getting sick, either,” he said.




All the beef had been served at the Truckee-area restaurants before the county or the places of businesses had been notified the red meat was recalled, county health officials said Wednesday.

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.

A single Holstein on a Washington state farm tested positive for mad cow disease Dec. 23, 2003, in what was the first suspected case of the disease in the United States. A federal recall went into effect the following day.

The USDA Food, Safety and Inspection Service issued a “Class II” recall for the meat because of an “extremely low likelihood that the beef being recalled obtains the infectious agent” that causes Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy – mad cow disease.

“According to scientific evidence, the tissues of highest infectivity are the brain, spinal cord, and distal ileum, which were removed from the rest of the carcass at slaughter,” stated a USDA news release from December.

Truckee-area restaurateur Jake McCormick, general manager at Blue Coyote Bar & Grill, said it was relatively easy for him to determine that his business did not receive any of the recalled beef.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

Residents with food safety questions can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/cjd/cjd.htm.

The Union’s Dave Moller and Sierra Sun’s Renée Shadforth contributed to this report.


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