QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS HALLMARK/WESTLAND MEAT PACKING CO.
March 6, 2008
Q. My child/school recently consumed Hallmark/Westland products. What is the risk to children's health?
A. Extremely remote. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has every production lot of ground beef tested by independent laboratories for certain pathogens and indicator organisms. Those lots that have positive findings of E. coli 0157:H7 or Salmonella are prohibited from Federal food and nutrition programs and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is notified. AMS had only one positive test result at Hallmark/Westland and this product was removed from the AMS supply chain and not delivered to any Federal food and nutrition program.
USDA is confident in the safety of the food supply. Human and animal health is protected by a system of interlocking safeguards, which also include the removal of specified risk materials—those tissues that studies have demonstrated could contain the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) agent in infected cattle—from the human food chain, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 1997 ruminant to ruminant feed ban.
The cattle at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company passed ante-mortem inspection before slaughter. While the federal government has multiple regulations regarding BSE in place, the prevalence of the disease in the United States is extremely low. Since June 1, 2004, APHIS has sampled more than 759,000 animals and, to date, only 2 animals have tested positive for BSE under the program.
Q. How can I find out whether my school or school district served any Hallmark/Westland products to my children?
A. State Distributing Agencies that handle commodities purchased by USDA have records on where Hallmark/Westland products were delivered within the State. Contact information is available at www.usda.gov/actions.