Beef Beef

The southern California meat processor Westland/Hallmark Meat Company issued America’s largest beef recall last Sunday following the animal abuse scandal that was exposed by an undercover investigation by the company.
An investigator for the Humane Society of the United States spent six weeks working at the Chino slaughterhouse, helping to drive cattle from trucks and pens into a chute that led to the killing area. Using a tiny hidden camera he captured the mistreatment and slaughter of animals too weak or sick to walk.
‘It was so blatant, so commonplace,’ the investigator said, speaking from an anonymous location. ‘It was so in-your-face . . . they were pushing animals we felt never should have qualified for human consumption.’
The resulting video, shown on television and on YouTube and other websites, has caused uproar since its release on January 30. The footage shows workers kicking sick cows and using forklifts to force them to walk. Cows that are unable to walk, called downer cows, have been banned from the food supply by the federal government as they pose a great disease risk.
The Department of Agriculture’s inspectors are required to monitor slaughterhouses for such abuse and conduct pre-slaughter inspections on all cattle on the day of slaughter. Companies must alert Department veterinarians if cows become unable to walk after passing this inspection, but Westland/Hallmark staff have not always followed this ruling.
143 million pounds of raw and frozen meat product has been recalled, a significant portion of which was intended for school lunch programs and other federal nutrition programs where it would have already been consumed. Officials say that the recalled meat poses little health risk, as the animals had already passed pre-slaughter inspection, but it was necessary to recall the meat as the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection.
The Department of Agriculture has begun an inquiry into the company and suspended Westland/Hallmark as a supplier to federal nutrition programs. Company president Steve Mendell said that he was ‘shocked and horrified’ by the videos and voluntarily suspended operations pending the outcome of the federal inquiry.

New York Times
Los Angeles Times