Westland/Hallmark sold meat from downers

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Monday, September 28, 2009

Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. knowingly slaughtered and processed downer cattle an average of once every six weeks over the course of almost four years, the federal government alleges in a lawsuit.

The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking damages from individuals and corporations affiliated with the company, which closed after videos showed workers abusing non-ambulatory cows in late 2007 and prompted the largest beef recall in U.S. history. The DOJ in May joined a lawsuit originally filed by the Humane Society of the United States, which produced the video.

The federal suit, filed Aug. 21 following additional research and interviews, states that Westland/Hallmark's sales of beef to USDA for the National School Lunch Program in a series of contracts during the period from Aug. 8, 2003, to Jan. 24, 2008, were fraudulent because the company had certified that it was complying with the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

Westland/Hallmark, the DOJ alleges, handled cattle inhumanely on a daily basis and after June 22, 2004, periodically processed meat from non-ambulatory cattle on average once every six weeks. This continued through Sept. 30, 2007, the lawsuit states.