Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last several weeks I’m sure you’re aware of the massive California meat recall last month. Like any product used or consumed by the public, meat products are subject to recall. Still recalling a side of beef seems a little strange when compared to recalling a car or a defective blow-dryer. When it comes to any type of food product you would think safety inspectors for the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be all over the processing of all food products especially perishable foods like meat. Apparently not.
As you probably remember the meat recall was massive, nearly 9 million pounds of beef was recalled by the Rancho Feeding Corporation, a large slaughterhouse near San Francisco, after it was discovered that the meat was distributed without being fully inspected by USDA inspectors. But did you know that a similar, but much smaller, recall had taken place at the same facility just two weeks before the massive recall. I would have hoped that the place would have been swarming with federal safety inspectors on high alert after the recall, but again, apparently not. It took them more two weeks to announce the second recall!
According to USDA reports, all of the recalled beef was said to have come from sick and unsound animals which makes the meat unfit for human consumption (no Duh!) and that there was a “reasonable probability that consumption of this beef could result in serious, adverse health consequences or death.” Now, nearly three weeks later we’re being told that some of the meat may have come from cows that were suffering from cancer! Yeah I guess cancer would qualify as an illness that would definitely make them sick and unsound! In addition it was reported that past inspection reports reveal that unsanitary conditions had been found at the plant including excessive flies, fecal matter on carcasses and improper sanitation of cutting knives and disinfection of cutting surfaces. On the bright side a company spokes person stated that thus far there have been no reports of illness or death linked to the meat. I suppose that really is good news considering the meat was distributed in several states including California, Texas and Oregon. Better news is that the slaughterhouse voluntarily shut down.
The meat industry like any other operation is in business for one reason and one reason only: profit! It’s all about money and there’s plenty to be made from beef products. They want nothing to go to waste, not even diseased cattle. Nearly every part of the cow is used. The recall included more than wrapped cuts of beef we find in the meat department of our local markets, it included beef carcasses, heads, blood, cheeks, lips, liver, heart, feet, bones, tongue and “mountain oysters” or beef testicle. Yeah these slaughterhouse definitely “waste not, want not.
So whose really to blame here? Is it the USDA inspectors whose job it is to examine these meat products before they go to market? Are they understaffed and overworked like other departments of the US government and don’t have the manpower to get the job done adequately? Are some inspectors simply not interested in doing their jobs any longer? Have they been at it so long that they simply don’t care anymore? Are some inspectors being paid to look the other way? I mean something has to be going on when cancerous cows are allowed to pass through the slaughterhouse doors undetected? At each site there is a USDA veterinarian who inspects the cattle perhaps the vet is to blame for allowing diseased animals to be purchased and slaughtered. Maybe the vet is being paid off or maybe it’s being done without her knowledge. Some speculate that cows with eye cancer may have had their heads decapitated before inspection. Nothing would surprise me.
Perhaps it has nothing to do with the inspectors. Maybe they’re doing their jobs the best they can and something more sinister is going on. Perhaps the people running the slaughterhouse were slaughtering the tainted beef after hours so inspectors were unaware of what they were up to. If the carcasses looked okay Rancho would then mix the tainted beef in with the other beef that it sold with no one being the wiser. Since Rancho is one of the few slaughterhouses that accepts retired dairy cows, cows that are often in poor health, this mixing practice would seem to make sense. Because I’m telling you it’s all about the money! It’s all about the profits! Yes my friends the greed of corporate America is alive and living at the Rancho Feeding Corporation! And if it’s happening at one large slaughterhouse whose to say it’s not happening elsewhere and on a wider scale?
Guess we’ll have to wait and see how this USDA government investigation pans out to see who really dropped the ball on this one and what new safeguards can be devised. But if the government conducts their investigation as well as their meat inspectors inspect meat we probably won’t learn a damn thing! Until then we the consumers of America remain at risk. Makes one think about becoming a Vegan doesn’t it?