Ironically, the same slaughter house that won 2004-05 Supplier of the Year to the National School Lunch Program is also responsible for the nation’s largest beef recall ever.
The total amount recalled: 143 million pounds of beef! And it is estimated that 37 million pounds of that recalled beef went to school programs. That is, our kids.
The recent recall, which has been the nation’s top story for the past few days, came about after an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the U.S. at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. This recall isn’t due to some illness wherein one infected cow came to the slaughterhouse and infected the others. This recall is due to the mistreatment, or should we say torture, of sick and injured “downer” cattle which were forced to stand long enough to fool the USDA into believing they were healthy and therefore pass the USDA’s inspection. Normally, downer cattle are prohibited from entering the food supply because they are more likely to spread Mad Cow’s disease, E coli, and salmonella. Once the sick cattle passed inspection, they went through the slaughter process and ended up on our children’s plates. This is a prime example of why we should be more aware of whom we are getting our food from.
How can we know if a supplier is a good one or a bad one?
The ill cattle at Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. passed the USDA’s inspection. Even the Cattlemen’s Association claims that the abuse is something they don’t condone and don’t tolerate and that they were unaware of the treatment at Hallmark. If both the USDA and the Cattlemen’s Association were unaware of what was happening with the downer cattle at Hallmark, then can we be assured that they know what is happening at the other 900 or so slaughterhouses in the U.S. and that we are buying untainted meat?
Our best bet is to buy beef locally. Buy from farmers who allow their herd to roam the range and live in conditions similar to their natural behavior with sunshine, fresh air, water, and a pasture. And while you are shopping for farmers, choose ones that don’t inject their livestock with antibiotics or growth hormones.