- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MARSHFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A food pantry in Marshfield has been forced to throw away more than 900 pounds of frozen hamburger meat processed at a plant that wasn’t federally certified.

Two U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors were visiting Gibson’s Packing Co. in Seymour last week when they noticed the Webster County Food Pantry paid for the processing of some meat, according to the Springfield News-Leader (https://sgfnow.co/2eoRdHr ). They then drove to the food pantry and instructed workers to toss the meat.

Pantry director Jerry Nehl said nothing was wrong with the meat except where it was processed. Nehl, who has been with the food pantry for 24 years, said the state-certified plant donated the meat to the food pantry without knowing about the federal regulations.

Nehl explained that farmers frequently donate injured or extra animals to the pantry. The pantry simply has to pay the processing fee, which is how the USDA came to find out about the pantry’s meat usage.

The pantry serves about 225 families each month.

“That (905 pounds) would have been enough meat for all 225 families,” Nehl said, advocating for changes in the federal law.

Christine Temple, communication coordinator of Missouri food bank Ozarks Food Harvest, said the law is in place for safety.

“It’s the idea that we want any food someone receives at one of our pantries (to) be the same quality as if they went into a grocery store and purchased food,” Temple said. “Any meat that you are going to purchase is going to be USDA inspected.”

An attempt to speak with a USDA representative was unsuccessful Monday.

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