USDA Orders The Largest Beef Meat Recall

Armen Hareyan's picture

The announcement of the beef recall by the USDA came on Sunday, which involves the recall of frozen beef produced during the past two years by the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company.

Last week federal officials made undercover videos that showed crippled and sick animals being shoved into the slaughterhouse by a worker on a forklift.

"Regulations call for the removal from the food supply of cattle that are unable to walk because they carry higher risk for a number of diseases, including Mad Cow disease," reports VOA News

According to USDA it is extremely unlikely any of the sick animals at the plant had Mad Cow disease.

In a statement by Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer Regarding Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company two year beef meat recall Schafer said "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. It is extremely unlikely that these animals were at risk for BSE because of the multiple safeguards; however, this action is necessary because plant procedures violated USDA regulations."

WESTLAND/HALLMARK MEAT CO. Statement On Beef Meat Recall

February 3, 2008


As President of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. I want to reassure our customers and consumers that our company has met the highest standards for harvesting and processing meat under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. A fulltime USDA veterinary medical officer has been assigned to our facility for many years, and he oversees the work of three inspectors in the harvest operation and another inspector assigned to the processing operations. In addition, we have had a full time official from the USDA's Grading Service in our operation for the purpose of ensuring contractual compliance for the meat we sell to the USDA commodity program.

During 2007, we had 17 third party audits of our operation to confirm that we meet the statutorily mandated humane handling and food safety standards. In addition we have conducted 12 internal audits by our own personnel to ensure that such standards are met. We also, conduct weekly humane handling audits based on standards set forth in the American Meat Institute's (AMI), Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide 2007 Edition, which was authored by Dr. Temple Grandin, a world renowned expert of humane handling practices. Complete documentation of this activity has been made available to the USDA investigation team currently at our plant.

Words cannot accurately express how shocked and horrified I was at the depictions contained on the video that was taken by an individual who worked at our facility from October 3 thru November 14, 2007. We have taken swift action regarding the two employees identified on the video and have already implemented aggressive measures to ensure all employees follow our humane handling policies and procedures. We are also cooperating with the USDA investigators on the allegations of inhumane handling treatment which is a serious breech of our company's policies and training.

As part of our own investigation, we have retained an outside consultant to take an independent look at our operations. He is a veterinarian who worked for FSIS in a supervisory position for 26 years all over the U.S. He spent two days in our facility with full and free access to all documentation and plant personnel. He told us in a written report that our records and programs are "the best he has ever seen in any plant." We have provided his report to the USDA.

We have voluntarily suspended our operations pending the completion of the USDA investigation. We are dedicating our full efforts and resources to fully cooperate with the USDA investigative team that has been assigned to our plant.

Finally, I proudly assure our customers that we comply with all USDA requirements, including the requirement that only ambulatory livestock may enter the harvest facility to be processed for human food. I am confident that we have met this high regulatory standard.

Steve Mendell - President

Westland Meat Co. - Hallmark Meat Packing