“Unfit For Human Consumption” – CA Meat Plant Tied To Another Big Beef Recall

“At the plant, labor conditions were perfectly legal yet undesirable. It was staffed by mostly Latino migrant workers, but there were also supervisors, veterinarians, and 5 USDA inspectors. Theoretically, these senior employees were to be present at all times of slaughter, but that didn’t appear to be the case.” File photo.

Aug 31, 2019

Food Safety News – Chino, CA based American Beef Packers, Inc. has recalled approximately 24,428 pounds of raw beef products that are deemed unfit for human consumption

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), inspectors retained the carcass and collected a sample for further analysis.

Prior to test results being received, the carcass was erroneously released and further processed into raw intact and non-intact beef products, which were distributed in commerce.

The raw beef items were produced and packaged on Aug. 21, 2019. The recalled products bear establishment number “EST. 34741” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to federal establishments in California and Oregon. See further label details here.

The firm notified FSIS on Aug. 30, 2019, that a carcass that was pending laboratory results had been erroneously released and further processed into raw intact and non-intact beef products.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and consumers’ refrigerators or freezers or both. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Deja Vu All Over Again – 

“Nobody knew what was going on behind closed doors.”

We thought the story above sounded eerily familiar. Then we found this 2012 report about the very same meat processing plant … 

November 18, 2012

BUSINESS, GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY FIVE

In Chino, California, the space now occupied by American Beef Packers has a story to tell.

In 2008, the company that occupied the space, Hallmark-Westland Meatpacking Company, was the second largest meat processing plant in the nation.

Now, following the largest beef recall in this country’s history and a deluge of negative attention, Hallmark-Westland ceases to exist except for its infamous legacy.

This case highlights many issues in the meat production industry, including the prevalence of product contamination and animal abuse.

What makes the Hallmark-Westland case unique is the basis of this massive recall: an undercover video posted on YouTube by a member of the Humane Society highlighting various animal abuses occurring in the plant.

Hallmark-Westland Meat Company started as two separate organizations. Hallmark Meat Packing, founded in 1960, slaughtered dairy cows and sold fresh beef to meat processing companies.

Founded by Steve Mendell in 1990, Westland Meat Company bought the fresh beef and processed it into popular products like ground beef. In 2003, Steve Mendell purchased Hallmark to form the combined Hallmark-Westland Meat Company.

“It was staffed by mostly Latino migrant workers …” 

This joint venture covered all aspects of the meat production and distribution industry and quickly made Hallmark-Westland one of the most powerful meat packaging plants in the country.

At the plant, labor conditions were perfectly legal yet undesirable. It was staffed by mostly Latino migrant workers, but there were also supervisors, veterinarians, and 5 USDA inspectors. Theoretically, these senior employees were to be present at all times of slaughter, but that didn’t appear to be the case.

Following the merger of the two companies, Hallmark-Westland became one of the largest fresh beef suppliers to the National School Lunch Program.

The USDA named Hallmark-Westland its Supplier of the Year for the lunch program in 2004-2005.

By 2007, Hallmark-Westland was supplying almost 20% of the ground beef for the School Lunch Program, which computes to approximately 27 million pounds of beef and $39 million in revenue for Hallmark-Westland annually.

While the National School Lunch Program was the largest source of individual revenue and stature for Hallmark-Westland, they also sold their ground beef to major food retailers like Jack in the Box and In-N-Out Burger, which contributed to the company’s $100 million annual sales (Seltzer, 7).

These figures demonstrate that Hallmark-Westland was a profitable meat processing company that had garnered the respect of government organizations. Prior to their fall from grace, there had been little negative press surrounding Hallmark-Westland.

Nobody knew what was going on behind closed doors.

Then, in 2007, everything at Hallmark-Westland began to unravel. As part of their random undercover auditing process, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) discovered that there were various crimes against animals being committed in the Hallmark-Westland plant.

Their undercover investigator applied for a job there and was hired to drive cattle to holding pens and the killing floor. He worked long, grueling hours and was surrounded by various practices that did not meet ethical and legal standards.

He noticed that the USDA inspectors and veterinarians were only present at two distinct times and did not analyze each individual animal … Read more.