Food Safety Act: five food recalls that rattled the industry

5. Beef

Nati Harnik/AP
Cows are kept in pens at a feedlot southwest of Omaha, Neb., in this Oct. 19 photo

In February 2008 the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of beef from a California meat company. The recall, which covered Westland Meat's entire beef output for two years – was enacted because it was found that the company failed to prevent sick animals from entering the food supply.

The recall was extensive, but USDA officials said that the beef posed little hazard to consumers, and most of it had long since been eaten.

The recall followed the release of a video showing employees of a Westland partner, Chino, Calif.-based Hallmark Meat Packing, committing "egregious violations" of federal animal care regulations. On the tape, employees are seen abusing cows before herding them to be slaughtered, according to the Washington Post.

Hallmark neglected to allow federal veterinarians to examine cattle headed for slaughter that were too sick or weak to stand on their own, said then-Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer. "Because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection, [the USDA] has determined them to be unfit for human food, and the company is conducting a recall," he said in a statement.

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