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Massive Beef Recall Reaches California Prisons

A major meat processor, Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company of Chino, California, recalled 143.3 million pounds of beef in early February 2008 after undercover video showed sick and “downed” cows being forced to get up so they could be processed. Workers were observed prodding some of the sickly animals with a forklift to get them moving. By law, diseased or weakened animals must be removed from the food chain during pre-slaughter inspections, but Westland was caught violating that protocol.

The company “voluntarily recalled all raw/frozen beef products because the product may contain foreign material/non-microbial contamination.” Recall notices went out nationwide, including to the California Correctional Center State Prison in Susanville. There, prison officials complied by returning 3,866 pounds of breakfast links, soy/beef patties, bulk soy/beef and Salisbury patties.

Since California’s 33 prisons use a common menu, other facilities may have been affected as well. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ordered a recall of all meat processed at Westland’s plant # 336 between February 1 and February 15, 2008, by the time notices went out much of the food product had already been consumed. According to the USDA, the practice of slaughtering sick and downed cattle at the Westland plant “occurred occasionally over the past two years.” The plant was closed until corrective measures were implemented.

No reports of illness from the contaminated beef have been reported.

Source: USDA recall press release

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