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Mock kitten recipe offends MU staff

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A mock recipe calling for boneless kitten meat that landed in a University of Missouri internal newsletter has riled some on campus.

“Kung Pao Kitten” was one of two featured “Recipes of the Month” in the December issue of Staff Spotlight, a staff newsletter within MU School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery. The newsletter was sent to about 90 employees.

The recipe is similar to kung pao chicken but instead calls for kitten halves to be chunked and marinated in white wine, soy sauce and oil and combined with water chestnuts and peanuts. There’s a disclaimer under the recipe that reads: “The tastes and opinions within the Staff Spotlight do not necessarily represent those of all contributors. No animals were hurt in the making of this Spotlight.”

School spokesman Rich Gleba said it was not supposed to be taken seriously.

Staff members apparently weren’t amused. An anonymous complaint sent to a Columbia newspaper along with a copy of the newsletter said employees found the recipe “extremely offensive, discriminatory, tasteless and not something that should have been distributed in a professional environment.”

David Kubiak, a care coordinator within the surgery department, submitted the recipe, according to the newsletter. Kubiak referred questions to Gleba.

A formal statement from the department said the “material is inappropriate and insensitive, and the staff member responsible for sending it apologized minutes after it was distributed.”

Gleba would not say whether any disciplinary actions were taken against Kubiak or employees who printed the newsletter. Kubiak is still employed by the university.

Roger Worthington, assistant deputy chancellor and chief diversity officer, learned of the incident from a Columbia Tribune reporter. With thousands of employees on campus and within the health system, it’s not surprising to have “somebody who may not be as culturally sophisticated as we would like,” he said.

These issues provide opportunities for quick lessons about cultural sensitivity, Worthington said.

In general, he said the School of Medicine has been a leader in diversity efforts over the past several years, including forming a task force to promote diversity.

The feline recipe has administrators rethinking how the monthly Staff Spotlight is put together.

Right now, an employee collects recipes and other information, such as birthdays and fitness tips, from staff members and distributes it in newsletter form without administrative oversight. In the future, Gleba said, administrators will review that content first.

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