USDA Will Step up Inspections at Slaughterhouses

US - The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that it would step up oversight at 900 slaughterhouses in the USA to check for inhumane handling violations like those that led to the biggest meat recall ever on Sunday.
calendar icon 19 February 2008
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"I don't have reason to believe this is widespread. But the extra checks will give us a better handle on it," said Kenneth Petersen, USDA assistant administrator.

Westland/Hallmark Meat of Chino, Calif., recalled 143 million pounds of beef manufactured over two years after a USDA investigation sparked by abuses uncovered by the Humane Society of the United States. The USDA found that Westland did not always alert federal inspectors when cows that passed an initial USDA inspection became unable to walk before they were slaughtered.

Such "downer" cattle are supposed to be excluded from the U.S. food supply because they're at higher risk of carrying mad cow disease, which affects the brain, and E. coli and salmonella bacteria.

The USDA says the recall poses minimal risk to consumers because mad cow disease is so rare and the plant followed other mad-cow prevention measures. Only three cases in cattle have been found in the USA. More than 750,000 have been sampled. The USDA also says that most of the meat has likely been consumed, with no illness reports, and that the abuses represent an "isolated incident."

Source: USA Today

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