HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Monday, February 18, 2008

Largest Meat Recall: Only a Few Years Too Late

The New York Times reports today on the largest meat recall ever!!  I feel safer - my government at work etc. but unfortunately this appears to be a little late - I certainly don't have meat in my freezer from two years ago.  It is enough to make me - a true beef-loving person - into a vegetarian.  The Times story states,

A California meatpacker accused of animal cruelty is making the largest U.S. meat recall on record -- 143 million lbs, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Sunday.

Most of the meat, raw and frozen beef products, probably has already been consumed, said USDA officials at a briefing. Some 37 million lbs were bought for school lunches and other federal nutrition programs. USDA said there was only a minor risk of illness from eating the beef.  Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co voluntarily recalled all of its beef produced since February 1, 2006. USDA said Hallmark violated rules against the slaughter of "downer cattle" -- that is, animals too ill to walk.

"This is the largest beef recall in the history of the United States, unfortunately," said Agriculture Undersecretary Richard Raymond.  Based in Chino, California, Hallmark/Westland has been closed since early February. Company officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Humane Society of the United States showed videotapes on January 30 showing workers at the plant using several abusive techniques to make animals stand up and pass a pre-slaughter inspection. These included ramming cattle with forklift blades and using a hose to simulate the feeling of drowning.

The HuffingtonPost Blog has more about the slaughterhouse.  Perhaps there could be an updated novel in this . . . . mmmmm

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