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Statement by Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer Regarding Animal Cruelty Charges Filed Against Employees at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company
February 15, 2008
"Today, the San Bernardino District Attorney filed felony animal cruelty charges against two employees who were terminated by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company.
It is regrettable that these animals were mistreated and I am encouraged and supportive of these actions by the San Bernardino District Attorney in response to this mistreatment.
Since Jan. 30, when USDA learned of allegations made regarding inhumane handling of non-ambulatory disabled cattle at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company, the Department has taken many aggressive steps.
To date, Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company remains suspended by the Food Safety and Inspection Service and is not operating at this time. We continue to conduct a thorough investigation into whether any violations of food safety or additional humane handling regulations have occurred. On Feb. 8, our Office of the Inspector General took the lead on the investigation. At that time, USDA extended the administrative hold on Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company products for the National School Lunch Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations while the investigation continues.
I remain quite confident in the safety of the food supply. USDA will continue to take appropriate action based on the findings of the investigation."