I had read various accounts of animal mistreatment and other problems at the Westland/Hallmark Beef Co. in California, but last night the USDA recall of 143 million pounds of beef was as a front page headline on the Fox News website. You can click here to read the entire article and watch a video clip of the news report.
This news is pretty chilling in and of itself, but do you want to hear something even worse. According to the news report the recall includes beef going back to 2006! I don't know about you, but I don't think a recall for beef that is possibly two years old will do much good ... of course knowing this industry maybe it is still in the food chain (I hope not).
Watch the video clip linked in the article if you can. But, if you connection is too slow then I'll just let you in on what may be the most telling quote from the interview with their "health expert". She says,
"there are multiple safeguards in place to secure the safety of our food in this country. Which is obviously a good thing. And one of those safety mechanisms pertains to cattle that have become, what, as Greg and you just mentioned before the break, non-ambulatory just prior to them undergoing slaughter. Now if that occurs, and sometimes it doesn't occur because of something ominous like mad cow disease, sometimes it occurs because they break a leg or injury a tendon. It is, the are mandated to have a federal vetrinarian examine those animals. What was found was that in this location, cows were becoming non-ambulatory, they failed to undergo the proper veterinary inspection and examination and so the plant was shut down. Now it needs to be emphasized while of course we fear something like mad cow disease, the official name of which as known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, may be entering our food supply, there is no evidence that any of the meat from those downer cattle, their referred to, has entered in our food supply. But of course this is a very aggressive cautionary measure."
Wow, I'm trying to figure out if that lady works for the USDA or the meat company... Allow me just a few seconds to break this down. First of all, I like how she says these safeguards are good things. Yep, they are such good things that they didn't work for two years! If the consumers (whether they be individuals or institutions) had been around that processing plant there is no way they would have been in business, because nobody would have wanted that meat after seeing that place. Joel Salatin says it, and so do many others, "the consumer is the best regulation".
Secondly, why does it take two years to figure out that a federal law about inspection is not being followed? I'm not even sure if I want to answer that question because I know that it would just sadden me. But, suffice to say that no matter how "good" the laws are we can never count on the government to protect us from food. Our eyes and our ears need to be the protection. We need to have relationships with the producers of the stuff that we count on for energy, health, and life!
And finally, since when is it no big deal when a cow is suffering through a broken leg or torn tendons? I am not and will never be a person that places the value of an animal above human life, but I do know that we are called to be good stewards of what God has given us. That is not good stewardship!
I could go on and on with this one, but I said I would take just a few moments. Make sure you read the article and watch the video if you can. Let me know what you think of this recall and what it says about agriculture in the U.S. in general...