U.S. Orders Largest Beef Recall in History
LABELLE, FL. -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef produced by a California slaughterhouse in what is now believed to the be largest meat recall in history.
Chino, California's Westland/Hallmark Meat Companhy provides meat to school lunch programs, and the recall affects beef products dating back to Feb. 1, 2006. There have been no reports of illnesses linked to the recalled meat, and USDA officials termed the health threat small.
An undercover Humane Society video showed crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts at the company's plant. Felony and misdemeanor charges were filed last week against some employees of the company, and an official investigation continues.
Officials estimate that about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, but they believe most of the meat has already been eaten. Most of the beef was sent to distribution centers in bulk packages, and the USDA was planning to work with the distributors to determine how much meat remains.
Federal regulations call for keeping downed cattle out of the food supply because they may pose a higher risk of contamination from E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease.
About 150 school districts around the nation have stopped using ground beef from Hallmark Meat Packing Co. Two fast-food chains, Jack-In-the-Box and In-N-Out, said they would not use beef from Westland/Hallmark. Other chains, such as McDonald's and Burger King, said they do not buy beef from Westland.
-from AP and Washington Post