The U.S. Department of Agriculture recalled 143-million pounds of beef on Feb. 17 after the Humane Society of the United States released undercover video showing workers at Chino-based Hallmark/ Westland Meat Co. forcing sick cows to stand with forklifts, electric prods and high-pressure water hoses.
The plant provided meat to school districts throughout Southern California, including Glendale Unified School District, though there have been no reports of tainted beef traced back to the plant.
The Department of Agriculture, which oversees slaughterhouse operations, already bans meat processors from putting “downer” animals — those that are too sick to stand — into the food supply because ill animals carry a higher risk of mad cow disease and other illnesses, Krekorian’s office said.
But Krekorian’s bill would levy a $20,000 fine and impose up to a year sentence in county jail on packaging plants that sell meat from downer cattle, swine, sheep or goats.
“This legislation will protect the public from potentially deadly tainted meat, protect farm animals from cruel and inhumane treatment and protect the reputation of the California beef industry,” Krekorian said in a statement.
“California cannot allow unscrupulous slaughterhouse operators to endanger the safety of America’s food supply and engage in grotesquely cruel practices to squeeze out a few more dollars of profit.”
The bill passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee with a 6-1 vote and will next be considered in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
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