Feb. 18, 2008 -- It's the largest beef recall in U.S. history: 143 million pounds of beef "voluntarily" recalled by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company of Chino, Calif.
The beef, produced from February 2006 until the U.S. Department of Agriculture suspended operations at the meat plant on Feb. 2, 2008, may be contaminated because of "inhumane" practices at the plant, including the processing of cattle too ill to walk.
Because no actual contamination has yet been found in any of the food products, the USDA is issuing a "Class II" recall, which it defines as "a health hazard situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of the product."
According to the Humane Society of the United States, which produced a vivid documentary depicting illicit practices at Hallmark/Westland, the company has delivered beef to more than 100,000 schools and child care facilities in 36 states through federally assisted school lunch programs.
"I am dismayed at the inhumane handling of cattle that has resulted in the violation of food safety regulations at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company," USDA secretary Ed Schafer said in a news release.
Much of the recalled beef in the two-year recall may already have been eaten. However, many of the products were frozen.
Specific package labels for the various recalled items -- which include both raw and processed meat and beef parts -- can be viewed at the USDA web site.