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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

California meat plant linked to school lunch program and shut by federal officials reopens

HANFORD, Calif. - A Northern California meat processing plant that was shuttered by federal inspectors Monday because of unsanitary conditions has reopened.

Officials at Central Valley Meat Co., a supplier for the National School Lunch Program, said in a statement Wednesday that they took immediate action to fix the cleanliness problems. Neither the company nor federal officials discussed the problems in detail.

"On Monday, FSIS suspended operations at Central Valley Meat Co. due to insanitary conditions at the establishment," Alexandra Tarrant, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said in a statement Wednesday. "After the company took corrective actions to address the issue, the suspension was lifted, and the plant has resumed operations."

The plant is in Hanford, Calif., about 30 miles south of Fresno.

Central Valley shut down for a week in 2012 after Compassion Over Killing, an animal rights group, sent videos to federal officials showing workers torturing cows with electric prods and spraying hot water on the animals, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/1m8qZU8 ).

The abuse led to the end of the company's relationship with In-N-Out Burger. The national lunch program and McDonald's Corp. also suspended purchases.

Federal inspectors didn't find that the animals' treatment affected food safety.

The facility reopened after submitting a plan of action that included training its workers to use electric prods correctly and banning taking in cows not able to walk or stand.

Last September, Central Valley recalled 58,000 pounds of beef for the school lunch program after federal officials said the meat possibly contained pieces of plastic. There was no recall associated with this week's announcement.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com

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