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Alison Mynick, RN, Esq.
Alison Mynick, RN, Esq.
Contributor •

How Safe Is Maine's Meat Supply?

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Some things we know for sure.

We know for sure that on February 17, 2008, the USDA ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of beef that had been processed at California’s Westland/ Hallmark Meat Co., dating back to February 1, 2006.

We can be sure, thanks to videotape evidence given to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service by the Humane Society of the United States, that some cattle at Westland/ Hallmark were not properly treated and inspected before they were slaughtered.

We also know for sure that the recalled meat made its way into our nation’s food supply and that approximately 37 million pounds of it was distributed to schools and public nutrition programs, most likely in the form of ground beef, meatballs, and burrito fillings.

We don’t know (yet) how much of the tainted meat is here in Maine, but we can be fairly sure that much of the tainted meat has been eaten since its introduction into our food supply in 2006.

And what we can’t be sure of is whether any of that meat made anyone sick in Maine.

No public official, in Maine or elsewhere, has come forward with a report linking meat from Westland/Hallmark “downed” cattle to an increased risk of E. coli, salmonella, or mad cow disease in those who ate any of the meat or meat products. On the other hand, how can we believe blanket assurances from the USDA saying that this situation is believed to have caused little or no hazard for consumers?

Could what happened in California happen in Maine?

While we count up the question marks and think about what to cook for the kids tonight, the USDA is “continuing its investigation” into the matter.

by: Anne Fennessey
Briggs & Counsel
Rockport, Maine