With a caveat that "It is extremely unlikely that these animals were at risk for BSE," the USDA today took the extraordinary step of releasing a Sunday announcement about additional actions on the growing scandal at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company, the firm whose ground beef has been deemed unfit for human food. As a result, the company today is conducting an enormous recall of 143 million pounds of frozen ground beef.
The most alarming element of this recall is the USDA's assertion that the company violated regulations prohibiting "non-ambulatory" or "downer" cows from entering the food supply. This regulation was put in place specifically as part of a concentrated effort to prevent Mad Cow disease, also known as BSE, from entering the U.S. food supply.
In today's statement, Ed Schafer, Secretary of AGriculture stated, "I am dismayed at the in-humane handling of cattle that has resulted in the violation of food safety regulations at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company."
Meat from the plant under investigation went to the National School Lunch Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. Other processed meat from this recall went to wholesalers for sale to restaurants and other commercial outlets.
According to the recall, "the products subject to this recall were sent to wholesale distributors nationwide in bulk packages and are not available for direct purchase by consumers. All products subject to recall bear the establishment number EST. 336 inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products were produced on various dates from Feb. 1, 2006 to Feb. 2, 2008. Companies are urged to check their inventories and hold the products until the recalling firm makes arrangements for final disposition of the products.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.