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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

USDA Shuts Down Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company's Operations.

There is a newer post here, Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co., Recalls 143 million pounds of Beef.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has shut down operations at Chino slaughterhouse, Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company, accused of supplying meat from at-risk cattle and treating weak animals cruelly. USDA at the time of the hold also indefinitely suspended the eligibility of Westland Meat Packing Company to participate as a supplier to Federal food and nutrition programs, specifically the National School Lunch Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

February 5, 2008

Corrected: Name of company

"On Feb. 4, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) suspended inspection at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company based on the establishment's clear violation of Federal regulations and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. This Notice of Suspension is a regulatory course of action available when FSIS finds egregious violations of humane handling regulations.

At the time allegations were revealed on Jan. 30, the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company voluntarily stopped operations on Feb. 1. The USDA suspension will remain in effect and the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company will not be allowed to operate until written corrective actions are submitted and verified by FSIS to ensure that animals are humanely handled.

An important point needs the public's attention: On Jan. 30, USDA placed an administrative hold on all Westland Meat Packing Company products because of potential violations of regulatory requirements and contractual terms as a supplier of products to the Federal food and nutrition programs.

USDA at the time of the hold also indefinitely suspended the eligibility of Westland Meat Packing Company to participate as a supplier to Federal food and nutrition programs, specifically the National School Lunch Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

On Jan. 30, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer called upon the Office of the Inspector General to work with FSIS and the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service to conduct an investigation into allegations of inhumane handling of non-ambulatory disabled cattle at Westland Meat Packing Company. These allegations were made by the Humane Society of the United States against Westland Meat Company.

We maintain an inspection system that safeguards the safety and wholesomeness of our food supply. USDA will take appropriate action based on the findings of the investigation."
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Binh said...

Hallmark/Westland meat packing should have been charged for animal cruelty and animal abuse.

Anonymous said...

To STEVE MENDELL, President of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co

Nice letter Steve(see below) but I can’t believe any of it. Myself along with millions of other Americans are Red meat eaters and are so because WE believe that these animals are treated with dignity and care when killed. You will have to do much better than this letter to convince me now. Steve, you need to show some true leadership and character by leading, not only the reform of WESTLAND/HALLMARK MEAT CO but every other Slaughterhouse in America. You are about to become the “Poster Child” for animal abuse across the country! If you really truly believe in the words below and you want the American public to do so as well, you need to turn this around an become a lobbyist for animal rights reform! I would strongly consider your next action or consider resigning before the board and the American public forces you too.

Mark Wilhelms, Chicago, IL


February 3, 2008

As President of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. I want to reassure our customers and consumers that our company has met the highest standards for harvesting and processing meat under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. A fulltime USDA veterinary medical officer has been assigned to our facility for many years, and he oversees the work of three inspectors in the harvest operation and another inspector assigned to the processing operations. In addition, we have had a full time official from the USDA’s Grading Service in our operation for the purpose of ensuring contractual compliance for the meat we sell to the USDA commodity program.

During 2007, we had 17 third party audits of our operation to confirm that we meet the statutorily mandated humane handling and food safety standards. In addition we have conducted 12 internal audits by our own personnel to ensure that such standards are met. We also, conduct weekly humane handling audits based on standards set forth in the American Meat Institute’s (AMI), Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide 2007 Edition, which was authored by Dr. Temple Grandin, a world renowned expert of humane handling practices. Complete documentation of this activity has been made available to the USDA investigation team currently at our plant.

Words cannot accurately express how shocked and horrified I was at the depictions contained on the video that was taken by an individual who worked at our facility from October 3 thru November 14, 2007. We have taken swift action regarding the two employees identified on the video and have already implemented aggressive measures to ensure all employees follow our humane handling policies and procedures. We are also cooperating with the USDA investigators on the allegations of inhumane handling treatment which is a serious breech of our company’s policies and training.

As part of our own investigation, we have retained an outside consultant to take an independent look at our operations. He is a veterinarian who worked for FSIS in a supervisory position for 26 years all over the U.S. He spent two days in our facility with full and free access to all documentation and plant personnel. He told us in a written report that our records and programs are “the best he has ever seen in any plant.” We have provided his report to the USDA.

We have voluntarily suspended our operations pending the completion of the USDA investigation. We are dedicating our full efforts and resources to fully cooperate with the USDA investigative team that has been assigned to our plant.

Finally, I proudly assure our customers that we comply with all USDA requirements, including the requirement that only ambulatory livestock may enter the harvest facility to be processed for human food. I am confident that we have met this high regulatory standard.

Shana said...

The word "proud" should have never been in that letter. This is so sick! You say that you have veterinary medical officer on site..how is that woring for you or better yet these poor "downed" cattle? They did not get this way overnight. What were you doing for them before this? I dont believe this is the first time! Someone needs to go to jail!!

Hans wisler said...

We just saw the news/video clip on how these sick and helpless animals were treated. An absolut disgrace! What kind of employees does this company have and hire. We hope the U.S. Government will shut down this company for good.

virginia said...

..the scream that came from that cow will live with me until i'm gone...this will get swept under the rug just like everything else that becomes yesterdays news..mr. mendell will take his money and move on..the abusers will bail out..cut a deal..and move on..and it will be forgotten..when will we learn that when we trust anything to government agencies that things like this will happen..katrina comes to mind and babies under the protection of government agencies die every day///why would we think the treatment of cows would be any better...this doesn't say much for the human race, does it?

ravenII said...

Thank you all for leaving comments. I don't mind people eating meat. But the cows deserver better than this. And people deserve to get better products.
I worked in a farm and we took care of cows very well.

yara said...

These men should be put in jail for their actions,thats what everyone says, and I agree.What I dont agree with is everbody attacking,pointing fingers and talking bad about Steve Mendell as he were the one seen on these vidio clips.All Hallmark employees are trained to perform their
duty(s) in a profesional way.The fact that these two pathetic,cruel and immature men"CHOSE"to act in such discusting way should not reflect on Steve Mendell.If he knew what was truely going on why would he look the other way,if in the long run the only one mainly affected in all this chaose would be himself.I dont understand why all of Hallmark employees have to be put out of their jobs for so long for something that they had no part in.Some of these men are the main source of income in their household and they are paying a high price for the actions of others.I for one feel deeply sorry for what is happening to Steve Mendell.What took him so many years of hard work and sacrifice,along with other hard working,honest and good people,TWO men that had no right what so ever come to destroy.

latrevisana said...

because my dear, although you just saw two men doing this on the video, surely someone else must have seen this and done nothing for who knows how long. This is a large meat packing facility, and I don't believe the two incompetent idiots in the movie acted undetected.


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