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Indybay Feature
Tue Feb 19 2008
Largest Beef Recall Ever After Video Exposes Downed Cow Abuse
Tue Feb 19 2008
Downed Cow Beef Had Been Supplied to Needy, Elderly, and Children Nationwide
The Humane Society of United States (HSUS) conducted a video-taped undercover investigation of Hallmark Meat Packing Company slaughterhouse in Chino, California. The six-week investigation was conducted in secret by an investigator who posed as an employee. The investigator documented cows unable to walk, known as "downed" cows, being rammed with the blades of a forklift, jabbed in the eyes, stabbed with electric prods and sprayed in the nose with high-pressure water hoses. Under federal regulations, only animals able to walk on their own can be used for meat. Downed cattle, which have higher occurrences of mad cow disease and other health issues, are supposed to be euthanized and removed immediately.

The video was released to the public by HSUS on January 30th. The video led to San Bernardino County district attorney filing criminal charges against two workers on February 15th, and then on February 17th, the USDA announced the recall of 143 million pounds of beef that came from the Chino plant, making it by far the largest beef recall in U.S. history. The plant has since been closed. USDA officials have noted, though, that most of the beef intended for the recall has already been consumed. The Chino slaughter plant had supplied the Westland Meat Company, which processes the carcasses. The facility is the second-largest supplier of beef to USDA's Commodity Procurement Branch, which distributes the beef to needy families, the elderly and also to schools in 36 states through the National School Lunch Program.

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