USDA orders largest beef recall ever

Over the weekend, the USDA ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef from Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., a California slaughterhouse that provided meat to school lunch programs, reports Associated Press. Federal officials suspended operations at Westland/Hallmark after an undercover Humane Society video surfaced showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts. Officials said it was the largest beef recall in the U.S. surpassing a 1999 ban of 35 million pounds of ready-to-eat meats. No illnesses have been linked to the newly recalled meat, which was sent to distribution centers in bulk packages, and officials said the health threat was likely small. Hallmark meat was not available to consumers through retail grocery or meat markets, but was sold wholesale to food companies that used it to make ground beef and products such as burrito filling, meatballs and sausage. But the most troubling fact is that about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, and officials believe most of the meat probably has already been eaten. On Thursday, federal lawmakers called for the Government Accountability Office to investigate the safety of meat in the National School Lunch Program, and some 150 school districts around the nation have stopped using ground beef from Hallmark Meat Packing Co., which is associated with Westland. Upon learning about the recall, some legislators criticized the USDA, saying the federal agency should conduct more thorough inspections to ensure tainted beef doesn't get to the public. "Today marks the largest beef recall in U.S. history, and it involves the national school lunch program and other federal food and nutrition programs," said U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. "This begs the question: how much longer will we continue to test our luck with weak enforcement of federal food safety regulations?" Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union,  said it best. "On the one hand, I'm glad that the recall is taking place. On the other, it's somewhat disturbing, given that obviously much of this food has already been eaten. It's really closing the barn door after the cows left." USDA Statement
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  • <p>Like the guy in the movie said, "I'm mad as hell about this." Several questions come to mind. 1. The original tape was taken sometime in October of last year but the HSUS didn't get around to releaseing it until January 28. What were these self-sppointed guardians of animal welfare thinking about for nearly 4 months? They have to take some of the blame. 2. A couple of yard workers were charged with various felonies and misdemeanors while the top guys at the plant profess shock and disgust? Excuse me! The top guys have to be culpable in a practice that must have been ongoing for quite a while. Ignorance is the flimsiest excuse. 3. The county D.A. had the tape for about 30 days and didn't levy charges until the video tape hit the fan. Then he had the nerve to do it during a press conference featuring HSUS prez Wayne Pacelle. Has anyone asked the D.A. which way the political winds were blowing? 4. The AMI knew of the existence of the tape since early January and tried desperately with Temple Grandin's help to identify the plant and put a stop to the abuse. No help was forthcoming from HSUS, though, until they released the tape and location to the Washington Post on or about January 28. Once again, HSUS has to accept part of the responsibility for allowing the abuse to continue as long as it did. 5. Can anyone explain how the USDA inspectors could have been onsite during the entire time and not have the slightest idea what was going on?</p>

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