Central Valley Meat Company of Hanford, California recalled 58,240 pounds of ground beef this week because it contained bits of plastic. Last year, this same company was shut down by the USDA for inhumane handling of cattle. The company is one of the top suppliers to the National School Lunch Program.
The ground beef containing plastic bits was prepared last April and was shipped in forty pound cases containing 10-lb chubs of “Fine Ground Beef”. Central Valley Meat Company sent the beef to distribution centers in Arkansas, California, Montana, and Texas. The meat was destined for the National School Lunch Program.
So far, no illnesses or injuries have resulted from the ground beef. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service looked into the problem after receiving complaints from consumers.
History of Violations at Central Valley Meat Company
Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut said, “Allowing facilities to get away with repeat violations of the law is unacceptable, let alone allowing those same rule-breakers to supply the school lunch program. The only way to correct this is a strong, independent food safety agency that I have long called for. No family should have to worry that the food their child gets at school will have foreign objects or make them sick.”
The repeat violations Rep. DeLauro spoke of refers to last year’s humane handling violations which caused the USDA to suspend inspections at the meat processing plant. (Without USDA inspectors, a meat processing plant must shut down, according to law.) The USDA action was prompted by an undercover video of employees at the plant repeatedly shocking and shooting dairy cows before slaughter, among other violations of humane handling regulations. An investigation into Central Valley Meat Company at the time found no indication of food safety violations.
I have to agree with Rep. DeLauro that a company with repeat violations shouldn’t be rewarded with large government contracts. I’m not sure another food safety agency will help the process, though. The inspectors and whistleblowers seem to be doing their jobs.
Raw ground beef photo via Shutterstock