USDA recalls 143 million pounds of beef

Cross-posted on Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times

The USDA has recalled 143 million pounds of beef produced from a Chino, CA slaughterhouse, making this the largest beef recall in the U.S.:
LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday recalled 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a Southern California slaughterhouse that is being investigated for mistreating cattle.

The federal agency said the recall will affect beef products dating [from] Feb. 1, 2006, that came from Chino, California-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., which supplies meat to the federal school lunch program and to some major fast-food chains.

Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer said his department has evidence that Westland did not routinely contact its veterinarian when cattle became non-ambulatory after passing inspection, violating health regulations.
The government shut Westland down on Friday after video revealed they were using forklifts to push sick cattle to slaughter. Two former employees are being charged with animal cruelty. The investigation will determine if further charges will be brought.
Jack in the Box, a San Diego-based company with restaurants in 18 states, told its meat suppliers not to use Hallmark until further notice, but it was unclear whether it had used any Hallmark meat. In-N-Out, an Irvine-based chain, also halted use of the Westland/Hallmark beef. Other chains such as McDonald's and Burger King said they do not buy beef from Westland. Link.
"We don't know how much product is out there right now. We don't think there is a health hazard, but we do have to take this action," said Dr. Dick Raymond, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety.

There are 150 school systems, through the Federal National School Lunch Program impacted by the recall (through Westland's Hallmark Meat Brand). The concern is that non-ambulatory and crippled cattle are most at risk for "contamination from E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease because they typically wallow in feces and their immune systems are often weak."

Here are the links to the CNN and
MSNBC reports.