The largest recall of beef in U.S. history – over 143 million pounds – and the solid evidence that USDA has failed to enforce its own ban against downer cattle being used in the nation’s school lunch program, demand immediate action by Congress says food safety attorney William D. Marler.  As I said to USA Today:

The huge recall will put the safety of the U.S. beef supply "front and center" in Congress, said William Marler, a prominent food-safety lawyer.

Marler says Congress should call hearings on the safety of the beef supply in the United States and provide funds to the Centers on Disease Control to study children for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) who consumed the meat supplied to the National School Lunch Program.

“The link between cattle that are too sick or injured to stand or walk, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) has been clearly established.” Marler said. “We were promised that the procurement specifications eliminated “downer” cattle from the National School Lunch Program and the USDA fully banned “downer “cattle from the human food chain in 2003.”

“In light of the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company, which was caught on film processing “downer” cattle, in violation of U.S. law, we now know that USDA ban was a lie,” added Marler. “Since BSE typically will not show symptoms for years, we need the CDC to track school children who might have been exposed.”

“And let’s not forget the risk of E. coli O157:H7. Since April of 2007 until this morning, another 30,000,000 pounds of red meat, mostly hamburger, had been recalled. E. coli illnesses once on a downturn have spiked. Kids are getting sick; seriously sick again,” said Marler. According to a USDA study published in August 2004 “downer” cows had three times more E. coli O157:H7 than other cows.

“One would think that with hundreds of Americans poisoned that Congress would ask one simple question – “What is going on?” Congress needs to act now. It is time for Congress to accept a leadership role and call hearings, not only to explore the reasons for the past months’ E. coli outbreaks, but also to help prevent the next one. Congress needs to fulfill its role of providing oversight to the other branches of government, especially investigative oversight,” added Marler.

  • Paul Nunes

    How many times must the USDA lie? Sounds like an awkward line from a Bob Dylan song. Time for Congressional hearings indeed.

  • 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…

  • L.A.

    The afterlife for you boys is going to be very interesting. You think this inhumane nature isn’t going to catch up with you? Good luck after your time is up here. You have no idea what waits for you in the afterlife…..

  • If anyone questioned your passion about the meat safety issue in the U.S. they have fallen silent. Here in CT children’s lunches have been supplied by that very meat.
    We have to get the message to the head runners in Campaign08 such as Barack Obama and John McCain that the U.S. needs a Food-Safety Czar – one who knows what’s going on and how to put teeth into reforming the whole meat supply chain.
    I nominate you, Bill Marler.

  • Bix

    Senator Clinton is a cosponsor of the 2007 Safe Food Act. Senators Obama and McCain are not. (That’s not saying they wouldn’t be if they were briefed on it.)
    I’m not making an endorsement here! I’m only saying that I’ve been following Senate and House versions of the 2007 Safe Food Act, a bill that would among many things increase number of inspectors, increase frequency for inspections, provide funding for same, and consolidate food safety responsibilities among organizations (FDA, USDA, etc.), and Clinton, along with Schumer (NY), Casey (PA), and Durbin (IL), are the sponsors of the bill in the Senate.