Can We Protect Our Food?

I am a self-proclaimed foodie. I love good food more than just about anything and am definitely aware of what I put into my body. I am not necessarily a healthy eater, just a slightly conscious one. As a result, I am very interested in knowing about the food industry and FDA regulations. The government’s role in what we’re allowed to consume has always intrigued me so, for paper 2, I decided to look into food recalls. I found this article about the five biggest and most influential food recalls recently and discovered the Hallmark/Westland meat recall of 2008, the largest of its kind in the history of this country.

A Happier Cow

This recall caught my eye because nobody got sick from consuming Hallmark/Westland’s products nor were their products infected with any disease. The company was forced to recall 143 million pounds of beef because of an undercover video (Warning! The video is graphic) distributed by the Humane Society that showed severe animal mistreatment and sickly cattle on their way to slaughter. Hallmark/Westland were not treating their animals correctly and, as a result, were forced to recall two years worth of meat, most of which was destined for schoolchildren’s lunches.

The situation surrounding Hallmark/Westland was especially unfortunate because they had passed government tests. The recall ignited a public firestorm and garnered negative attention for most government food organizations, especially the USDA. My primary question is how did Hallmark/Westland get to this point and how could they send such questionable meat to unsuspecting consumers. Is money really more important than health? The meat industry is already so controversial that this recall and the history surrounding it are extremely inflammatory and upsetting.


4 responses to “Can We Protect Our Food?

  1. I had not heard of this recall until I read your post and I have to say that I’m glad that the recall took place. I found your post extremely interesting as a comparison to my own post that dealt with McCormick Spices who has to deal with many of the same FDA regulations that Halmmark/Westland has to deal with but has made sure that they follow them rigorously. I am in complete agreement with you as to why a company would find profits more important than then safety and well being of hundreds of thousands of people? I think it’s one thing when a company like Enron puts people’s money and jobs at risk with their unethical business practices, but when your company creates a food product that if not treated correctly could seriously ill or even kill an innocent human being, then you really need to reassess your moral standards and values.

  2. I also haven’t heard of this recall until I read your post. Knowing the cows were going to die anyway, the employees probably didn’t care how they were treating them. Hallmark should have known what was going on sooner though. Even though the CEO probably doesn’t watch the handling of the cows, it is still his job to know how they are being handled. What I find most interesting is that no one actually got sick from meat of sick cows.

  3. After watching the video you posted, I too am quite disturbed by this story. I am too much of a meat lover to ever restrain from consuming meat, but the mistreatment of animals makes me sick. I think that the recall was the right decision by the USDA. This company should be punished in some form for allowing sick livestock to eventually be packaged as meat for consumption. The ethics of meat-eating in the United States is highly prevalent, with many people becoming vegetarians for ethical reasons. I highly respect these people because I think that we often turn a blind eye to the source of the food we eat, knowing that ethics may be compromised.

  4. Is money more important health? No. But is money more important than asking any hard questions about whether the legal oversight is adequate or than in building a safety culture for your organization that minimizes errors? No.

    How fat are the margins in this industry? Do thin margins lead to more ethically dubious activity? Not in the case of Enron, Apple, or Nike.

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