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STATEMENT BY USDA UNDER SECRETARY FOR FOOD SAFETY DR. RICHARD RAYMOND ON SUSPENSION OF INSPECTION AT HALLMARK/WESTLAND MEAT PACKING COMPANY
February 5, 2008
Corrected: Name of company
"On Feb. 4, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) suspended inspection at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company based on the establishment's clear violation of Federal regulations and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. This Notice of Suspension is a regulatory course of action available when FSIS finds egregious violations of humane handling regulations.
At the time allegations were revealed on Jan. 30, the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company voluntarily stopped operations on Feb. 1. The USDA suspension will remain in effect and the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company will not be allowed to operate until written corrective actions are submitted and verified by FSIS to ensure that animals are humanely handled.
An important point needs the public's attention: On Jan. 30, USDA placed an administrative hold on all Westland Meat Packing Company products because of potential violations of regulatory requirements and contractual terms as a supplier of products to the Federal food and nutrition programs.
USDA at the time of the hold also indefinitely suspended the eligibility of Westland Meat Packing Company to participate as a supplier to Federal food and nutrition programs, specifically the National School Lunch Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
On Jan. 30, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer called upon the Office of the Inspector General to work with FSIS and the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service to conduct an investigation into allegations of inhumane handling of non-ambulatory disabled cattle at Westland Meat Packing Company. These allegations were made by the Humane Society of the United States against Westland Meat Company.
We maintain an inspection system that safeguards the safety and wholesomeness of our food supply. USDA will take appropriate action based on the findings of the investigation."