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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

USDA Extends Meat Ban at Westland Meat

USDA officials extended a ban on use of meat from a Chino slaughterhouse shut down last week for mistreating cattle. It also said the Westland plant had been cited in 2005 for using electric prods on animals. This was the same year that Westland Meat Company was awarded “The Supplier of the Year for 2004-2005 for the National School Lunch Program.”

Shocking?

According to AP reports, USDA officials insisted Friday that investigations have found no evidence that meat from disabled animals has entered the food supply despite video to the contrary. Humane Society President and Chief Executive Wayne Pacelle disputed that claim by USDA.

"There’s no ambiguity in our mind that this plant was accepting downers, abusing downers and slaughtering downers."

Why is this all important?  Federal regulations call for keeping downer cows out of the food supply because they pose a higher risk of E. coli, salmonella contamination, or mad cow disease since they typically wallow in feces and their immune systems are often weak.  Yummy!

  • It Is Easier To Catch The Small Fry

    Meet Michael A. Ramos, San Bernardino County District Attorney. He has just filed criminal charges in the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company’s mistreatment of downer cows. We are not, at least at this point, going to see Westland/Hallmark President Steve M…

  • David

    Poor Cows they had no Choice in ths Matter,but Gread and Crual People did. Thank You

  • colleen

    i was so sickened by the story on the new about this and i am appalled that these people seen on this story are not being jailed. this is totally unacceptable for any animal to have to suffer the way these poor animals did. this company should be put out of business for this

  • Donald Schuler

    Having been raised on a farm in Iowa I understand the concept of raising animals to be used for human consumption…NEVER have I seen or thought I would ever see in the United States treatment of anything like I saw on the Today program this morning. We treat the terrorist who blew up the Twin Towers with more compassion. I have never posted anything in my life but I feel about the Westland Meat Company the way I felt about president Busch 7 and a half years ago:IT’s TIME TO STEP DOWN!!!!!!

  • Sonya

    These sickos feed this crap to our children…and torture poor, sick, animals. I wish them only the worst.

  • Will

    Why would any person want to purchase products from this company? People have the power to stop them; simply stop buying their products. If they do not sell, they fold.
    You pay a high price for abusing animals in the name of sales. That company should be ashamed.

  • jackie

    I do not think this is an “Isolated” case to this company or to any other sloughter house, these people happen to be the people cought, and they did not just start this behavior at the time the videos were taken. It angers me that other employees saw the abuse and did nothing, more then likely they did not want to lose their jobs or be labled “troublemakers” and forced to quit. I think we have for far too long had our heads in the sand saying to ourselves “Its non of my business”. Until it comes and sits on our front porch. Abuse is Abuse weather it be towards an animal or a human. Think about that for a change.

  • Gene ramem

    go cheney!!!
    go bush!!!
    kill
    kill
    kill

  • Robin

    Why are the animals that our country uses for food treated like we live in an uncivilized country with ignorant people? This is absolutely unnecessary and and a cruel thing to do. I am also sickened, Colleen, and I agree that these people should be jailed and the places that get their meat from them should find another source. This company is receiving awards when they should be receiving the same treatment they give to the animals. I will not knowingly eat any meat that has come from this company. I intend to find out who they distribute their meat to. Shame on the schools if they don’t show outrage over this company providing meat to the children in the schools.

  • Mark

    To STEVE MENDELL, President of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co
    Nice letter Steve but I can’t believe any of it. Myself along with millions of other Americans are Red meat eaters and are so because WE believe that these animals are treated with dignity and care when killed. You will have to do much better than this letter to convince me now. Steve, you need to show some true leadership and character by leading, not only the reform of WESTLAND/HALLMARK MEAT CO but every other Slaughterhouse in America. You are about to become the “Poster Child” for animal abuse across the country! If you really truly believe in the words below and you want the American public to do so as well, you need to turn this around an become a lobbyist for animal rights reform! I would strongly consider your next action or consider resigning before the board and the American public forces you too.
    Mark Wilhelms, Chicago, IL
    WESTLAND/HALLMARK MEAT CO.
    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.

  • Frank Dowd

    I think that it’s disgusting what happened at this plant. This facility should be ‘ Closed Down ‘for good. And any other Company that is found to do the same should be Closed too.

  • Frank Dowd

    I think that it’s disgusting what happened at this plant. This facility should be ‘ Closed Down ‘for good.

  • mike

    Does anyone know if national stores purchase from this organization? The news mentioned most of the meat went to school cafeteria’s. What state schools?

  • melanie

    There are no words that I can express that would define how I feel about this shameful treatment of cows. Why is it that man in all of his arrogance thinks that he is the only feeling intellegent being on this planet. Something should be done to the company and to the employees who are involved. And don’t for one minute think that the company didn’t konw what was going on…It’s about time that some of us speak for the animals..This is just one of many injustices done to all animals all over the world. I thought the USA had more heart but I guess everyting is about a buck.

  • ROBIN

    TO MR.MENDELL- MR.HALLMARK, PLEASE BE ADVISED, YOU BOTH WILL PAY A HEAVY PRICE FOR WHAT HAS TRANSPIRED IN CHINO,CA.MY STATE IS NOT ON THE DISTRIBUTION LIST ,BUT THE INHUMANE TREATMENT YOUR EMPLOYEES, FORCED ON THOSE ANIMALS IS BEYOND PRUDENCE OR REASON.

  • ROBIN ATKINS

    TO MR.MENDELL- MR.HALLMARK, PLEASE BE ADVISED, YOU BOTH WILL PAY A HEAVY PRICE FOR WHAT HAS TRANSPIRED IN CHINO,CA.MY STATE IS NOT ON THE DISTRIBUTION LIST ,BUT THE INHUMANE TREATMENT YOUR EMPLOYEES, FORCED ON THOSE ANIMALS IS BEYOND PRUDENCE OR REASON.

  • David Mack

    With the acts displayed across national television by Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. i am disgusted. The next time you or one of your employees/family members is sick, i hope the paramedics push, prod, and drag you by your defenseless self to the hospital. Or maybe they can use a forklift to get you going. I can rant and rave on these dispicable acts all day, but all in all I hope you go to hell!

  • Tom fromToledo Ohio

    THE FORK LIFT DRIVER AND THE OTHERS SHOULD BE FIRED, THEN THE U.S.D.A. SHOULD REPLACE THE SO CALLED INSPECTORS AT THAT PLANT. THEY AND YOU MR. MENDELL,ARE NOT DOING YOUR JOBS. THAT IS THE WORST VIDEO I HAVE EVER SEEN…..LET SOME OF US ON THE OUTSIDE COME IN AND POKE YOU WITH A PROD OF 25,000 VOLTS,THEN PUSH YOU AROUND WITH A 10,000 POUND FORKLIFT.. (don’t think you’d like that) You people are sickening.

  • Chris Mack

    For all those who diagree, the government has its role in this situation.. Yes all the blame is placed on the company, but with the help of government this is why Westland Meats was able to get away with this for so long. If the media was not so afraid of big brother this would have been brought to our attention sooner. For all the sick and twisted people involved, I feel sorry for you when redemption comes. May God have mercy on your souls.

  • Chris Mack

    For all those who diagree, the government has its role in this situation.. Yes all the blame is placed on the company, but with the help of government this is why Westland Meats was able to get away with this for so long. If the media was not so afraid of big brother this would have been brought to our attention sooner. For all the sick and twisted people involved, I feel sorry for you when redemption comes. May God have mercy on your souls.

  • julie

    For all those who diagree, the government has its role in this situation.. Yes all the blame is placed on the company, but with the help of government this is why Westland Meats was able to get away with this for so long. If the media was not so afraid of big brother this would have been brought to our attention sooner. For all the sick and twisted people involved, I feel sorry for you when redemption comes. May God have mercy on your souls.

  • Claire March

    If anyone out there didn’t see PBS’s “Frontline” last week, you should. I’ll bet this kind of abuse is happening all over the country, and the reason companies get away with it is because WE keep demanding the meat, the USDA is in tight with the beef industry and hasn’t the money or the motivation to shut down the plants, and the industry is in the business of getting as much beef out as possible as cheaply as possible, AND we don’t have the laws to protect the animals. The laws protect US and the companies. If you care, you are labeled an animal activist. The whole nation has to get mad. Then we’ll see change. If everyone writes, maybe something will finally get done. And it’s the USDA’s responsibility!!! Please write the USDA!!

  • Hallmark and Westland Meat Packing Company of Chino, California establishment is recalling approximately 143,383,823 pounds of raw and frozen beef products

    The problems at Westland and Hallmark began with abusing cattle, moved into a ban of its product from the market, then on to criminal violations. We now need to get this front and center before a congressional Investigation. The Largest…

  • Theresa Aylward

    never in my life have I felt so compelled to speak out. I saw this clipping this evening on the news and I was saddened disgusted and actually cried for thes poor animals where are the inspectors of these such plants and for what the Dollars they make places like this should never be able to open there doors again and what about the people that did consume this meat what recourse do they have its time we all stood together and stop this and prevent it from happening our governments need to stop this I wonder how much political money supports thes eplants please show your disgust at this stand up and rally againist it ever happening again theresa Aylward PEI canada

  • I posted a few days ago “Abusing Downer Cows and Feeding Them to Our Kids – It is All About Making a Buck”
    http://www.marlerblog.com/2008/02/articles/case-news/abusing-downer-cows-and-feeding-them-to-our-kids-it-is-all-about-making-a-buck/
    The recent YouTube video is certainly shocking, but nothing new – we have simply not been paying attention. Schools are scrambling to pull downer meat off the menu because cows are being abused, and even Agricultural Secretary Ed Schafers issues a statement on downer cow brutality:
    “I am deeply concerned about the allegations made regarding inhumane handling of non-ambulatory disabled cattle in a federally inspected slaughter establishment¬Ö. We are confident in our inspection system and the food safety regulations that ensure the safety and wholesomeness of the food supply. Among the federal safeguards in place, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) prohibits non-ambulatory disabled cattle and cattle tissue identified as specified risk materials for use in human food.”
    Oh really? But, then no one is talking about the USDA study published in August 2004 that found that downer cows had three times more E. coli O15:H7 than other cows, or the 1985 study linking chloramphenicol-resistant Salmonella newport traced through hamburger to dairy farms. We should worry about abused cows, or dogs and cats being poisoned by the Chinese, but we must worry about feeding cow shit to our kids.
    I knew this all sounded a bit too familiar. KIRO TV in Seattle covered this same story in 2002 and 2003 (nasty video’s too) – “Downer Industry Thrives Despite Consumers’ Concerns,” and Elizabeth Weise of USA TODAY broke the same story in 2004 – “Ban on ‘downers’ could change way cattle are raised” – The bottom line is that it is all about money. As Ms. Weise reported:
    Chandler Keys of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the 150,000 to 200,000 downers a year are a fraction of the 35 million U.S. cattle slaughtered each year¬Ö. An estimated 3% to 4% of beef cattle are downers. But research in Wisconsin and Minnesota in 2003 found 23% of dairy cattle were lame. Dairy cattle are more likely to become downers in part because they live longer¬Ö. Beef cattle are slaughtered in their prime.
    Downers banned – do not bet on it. A 2006 audit by the USDA’s inspector general found downer cows were still being processed for food and that USDA’s policy was inconsistent. At two of 12 plants visited from June 2004 to April 2005, downer cattle were slaughtered for food. One facility processed 27 of them, the other slaughtered two.
    So, here is the real deal: A downer cow typically brings $250 to $300 at slaughter. Sending the same animal to a rendering plant costs the owner $20 to $50 per carcass. Do the math.

  • jiber

    Ignorant and lying executives at Westland and Hallmark. They are filth!!!

  • David King

    Nice job Westland/Hallmark meats. How many scumbags do you employ? From the exec. office to the rednecks at the plants, all are to blame. I do hope you all pay and lose your jobs. Assholes like you all don’t need to be around animals. Reading the other blog’s I’m in totall agreement with them. Roast in hell Hallmark Meats