USDA Allows Mad Cow Infested Beef to Market
February 27, 2008, 4:14 pm
Filed under: California, health and environment, Mad Cow, USDA

USDA Allows Mad Cow Infested Beef to Market, as Long as it’s Mixed with 1% Healthy Beef

Wall Street Journal
February 22, 2008

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said yesterday they are still tracing 15 million of the 143 million pounds of beef involved in the nation’s largest-ever meat recall, but the meat industry appears to be pressing the agency to scale back the recall.

Just days after the recall was announced, industry representatives were talking with federal food-safety regulators about narrowing its scope, according to a legal memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The USDA has said much of the recalled beef, which was produced by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co., of Chino, Calif., probably has been consumed. No illnesses from the meat have been reported.

In two conference calls this week, industry and USDA officials discussed the possibility of excluding from the recall Hallmark/Westland beef that was mixed with other suppliers’ meat and sent to retail and wholesale customers, according to a memo written by an employee of Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz PC. The Washington law firm represents several food companies. The department appears to have since decided against narrowing the scope.

It wasn’t clear how much meat such an exemption might involve. The recall, announced Sunday, came about three weeks after the Humane Society of the United States released an undercover video showing workers at Hallmark/Westland’s Chino plant forcing sick or injured cows into slaughter by kicking them or ramming them with forklifts. Cows that can’t walk or stand on their own are generally banned from the food supply.

Such “downer” cows can be sources of mad-cow disease, which can cause a rare but fatal brain disorder in humans.

Though USDA and the industry discussed excluding some meat shipped to retailers and wholesalers from the recall, any Hallmark/Westland meat supplied to the federal school-lunch program — whether mingled with other suppliers’ meat or not — would have to be recalled. On one call this week with about 20 processors, agency officials reaffirmed all meat containing Hallmark/Westland products furnished to schools must be destroyed. But on a separate call, the USDA said it would take a “different approach” for Hallmark/Westland meat that was mixed with other suppliers’ meat and already sent to retail or wholesale customers, the law-firm memo said. “If a processor or grinder has records demonstrating that products were produced using less than 100% of recalled Westland meat for the meat component, then there is no need…to retrieve that ‘commingled’ product,” the memo said.

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This post is very interesting as well as extremely shocking. In the UK media attention has been really focused on the treatment of caged chickens and we forget that other animals are being reared badly and contributing to health issues.

Comment by laurablood

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