USDA – “largest beef recall in history”

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For a few weeks now, a video (editor’s note:  not for the squeamish) from the Humane Society of the United States has been circulating the internet that shows workers at a meat packing plant abusing and kicking sick cows. Even though Ag officials have come out and said that there were no real “health risks” from the meat, the meat company announced over the weekend that they were recalling 143 million pounds of meat, some of which was to be used in the school lunch program, due to the Humane Society investigation. 143 million pounds – that’s a lot of meat.

The video has also prompted San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos to charge one of the slaughter plant’s employees with five felony counts under California’s anti-cruelty statute and three misdemeanor counts for abusing downed animals, and a second worker with three misdemeanors counts of abusing downed animals.

Widespread mistreatment of animals in the food system is nothing new, nor is it surprising. Activists have long made the claim that working in slaughterhouses raises levels of interpersonal violence among people, too (the argument being that one becomes immune to pain, suffering and killing).

What is new (and a bit surprising, but sea changes seem afoot in the food system) are the speed at which this story has disseminated, the role played by a very pro-vegan organization in creating political critique of meat production, and the very obvious (in its absence) role of the USDA in admitting they don’t have nearly enough inspectors on the ground at production sites.

Now, who’s hungry?

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4 Responses to USDA – “largest beef recall in history”

  1. laurabethnielsen says:

    So I am totally confused — yes, we can define this as abuse (and I would be inclined to do so) and criminalize it and such, but it is SOP – why is all this beef being recalled? It is no more dangerous than any other meat on the market, right?

    And, is this a voluntary recall? And how voluntary is voluntary (the good empirical legal scholar’s question)

    And finally, I am reminded of Bruce Willis in Fast Food Nation: There’s always been shit in the meat, but you got no problem if you cook the meat! Cook the meat.

  2. foodgirl says:

    to clarify: the fear is ‘downer’ cattle being sick and ‘not fit for human consumption.’ BUT the video was shot long enough ago that the beef has been/is currently in the food system, and no one’s claimed illness (yet). Seems to me, at least, that the recall (initiated by the USDA, to cover their asses) is simply a measure taken to avoid dealing with the real problems at hand.

  3. laurabethnielsen says:

    great — symbolic destruction of food supply that is totally inefficient to produce. Go law! I also like how this tracks the domestic violence discussion we were having earlier about Gab’s talk and the military DV rate.

  4. lbsmom says:

    Goodie—something else to fear. for me, it started in the 1950’s, bomb shelters and all. fSince 9/11, it’s been terrorism, and now bad meat (with plenty of other scares in between). But my concern is the distrust this administration has created. Is the sky really falling or not? Maybe Chicken Little knows. I’ll ask her tonight at dinner!

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