Mistreated Cows Spark Largest US Recall Ever

US - Yesterday an American slaughterhouse was ordered to recall 143 million pounds of meat having been accused of mistreating its cows. The recall is being cited as the biggest beef recall in US history, and yet no animals have even been diagnosed with any illness.
calendar icon 18 February 2008
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The recall follows an earlier investigation by the animal activist organisation, Humane Society of the United States. The organisation filmed conditions in an undercover operation and discovered 'non-ambulatory disabled cattle', illegal for trade under the farm bill.

"We support USDA’s recall as a precautionary measure. At the same time, we can say with confidence that the beef supply is safe."
National Cattleman's Beef Association

Yesterday the USDA issued the following comments: "Through evidence obtained by FSIS, the establishment did not consistently contact the FSIS public health veterinarian in situations in which 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.

This noncompliant activity occurred occasionally over the past two years and therefore all beef product produced during the period of time for which evidence indicates such activity occurred has been determined by FSIS to be unfit for human consumption, and is, therefore, adulterated."

US cattle group, National Cattleman's Beef Assocaiation were quick to applaud the decision to recall the beef. A press release said, 'we support USDA’s recall as a precautionary measure. At the same time, we can say with confidence that the beef supply is safe. We have multiple interlocking safeguards in place in every beef processing plant in America so that if one is bypassed, the other systems continue to ensure the product we serve our families remains safe.

"The ban on non-ambulatory or ‘downer’ cattle is one of many steps in a robust system to produce safe beef, but it is not the only step taken to ensure the safety of the beef supply. The beef we eat is safe because there are multiple safety hurdles before it arrives at our grocery stores or restaurants.

"As an organization representing beef producers, we have two expectations when our cattle leave our farms and ranches: that our animals are treated humanely and that every step is taken to produce safe beef. We support USDA’s actions today to enforce the laws that ensure our cattle are handled with care and that our beef is produced safely.”

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