Largest Beef Recall Underway

Largest Beef Recall Underway

Food & Drink

Largest Beef Recall Underway

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Hallmark/Westland recalls 143 million lbs of beef — largest in history

By Janie Gabbett on 2/18/2008 for Meatingplace.com. Used by Permission.

Chino, Calif.-based Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. has voluntarily recalled about 143,383,823 pounds of raw and frozen beef products that USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has determined unfit for human food because some of the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection, USDA announced on Sunday.

The recall is the largest in U.S. history, dwarfing the 35 million pounds Thorn Apple Valley recalled in 1999. Sunday’s recall encompasses all the beef products Hallmark/Westland produced over the past two years. USDA officials told reporters most of the beef has likely already been consumed.

Product that has not been consumed and has gone to domestic nutrition assistance programs has been on hold since Jan. 30. Westland was actually named Supplier of the Year for 2004-2005 to the National School Lunch Program, to which Westland was a major supplier for years.

“We do not feel this product presents a health risk of any significance,” Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond told reporters, noting the chances of even downer cattle testing positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy are extremely low, and that specified risk materials are removed under FSIS inspector surveillance.

The recall is designated as Class II because there is only a remote possibility that the beef being recalled would cause adverse health effects if consumed.

Why now?

USDA said it now has evidence that Hallmark/Westland over the past two years did not consistently contact the FSIS public health veterinarian when cattle became non-ambulatory after passing ante-mortem inspection, which is not compliant with FSIS regulations.

Such circumstances require that an FSIS public health veterinarian reassess the non-ambulatory cattle which are either condemned and prohibited from the food supply, or tagged as suspect. Suspect cattle receive a more thorough inspection after slaughter than is customary.

In July 2007, FSIS issued a final rule “Prohibition of the Use of Specified Risk Materials for Human Food and Requirements for the Disposition of Non-Ambulatory Disabled Cattle.” This rule requires that a case by case disposition must be made by an FSIS Public Health Veterinarian for every animal that becomes non-ambulatory disabled (“downer”) after passing ante-mortem inspection.

The products subject to this recall were sent to wholesale distributors nationwide in bulk packages and are not available for direct purchase by consumers. All products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 336” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products range from ground beef to whole muscle and specialty products that were produced on various dates from Feb. 1, 2006 to Feb. 2, 2008.

To view a complete list of the recalled products, click here.

To view USDA’s a transcript of USDA’s technical briefing on the recall click here.

To view USDA’s Q&A on Hallmark/Westland click here.

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