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USDA Clears Central Valley Meat to Supply School Food Again

The U.S. Department of Agriculture late last week lifted its suspension of Central Valley Meat as a beef supplier for the federal nutrition programs, according to Meatingplace. The moves comes a few weeks after the company was shut down for several days following an undercover video that alleged egregious abuse of cows.

The department concluded that the company has taken the right steps to remedy the problems documented on film and an extensive investigation revealed that, despite mistreating some downer cows, the company was not slaughtering downed animals for human consumption.

USDA posted the following statement:

“USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) investigation has concluded that there is no evidence to support the allegation that a downer cow was slaughtered and entered the food supply, and that a food safety violation occurred as a result. In addition, FSIS has concluded its evaluation of the extensive corrective action plan submitted by Central Valley Meat Company to correct recent humane handling violations and has permitted Central Valley Meat to resume processing. As a result, the company will resume packing and shipping existing meat orders purchased by USDA for the National School Lunch Program.”

USDA recently accepted the company’s plan to improve its animal handling. The plan included enhanced training, video monitoring, and more third-party audits.

“We believe these measures will not only meet, but exceed the current USDA and customer guidelines and set a new industry standard for animal handling,” company officials said a statement given to Meatingplace.

Records posted on USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service website show that between October 2010 and September 2011, the USDA purchased 21.2 million pounds of various beef products, including ground beef and boneless beef, from Central Valley Meat. Five separate purchases, ranging from 40,000 pounds to 6.9 million pounds, were made for a total of $49.7 million.

According to the overview of purchases, the USDA purchased around 135 million pounds of beef products during the fiscal year. Purchases from Central Valley Meat accounted for roughly 16 percent of beef purchases by volume during that time.

© Food Safety News
  • Merle

    USDA overreacted to the deliberately false “allegation that a downer cow was slaughtered and entered the food supply, and that a food safety violation occurred as a result”.
    These USDA clowns are beyond incompetent if they take receipt of video from known industry saboteurs (video illustrating an unfortunate instance of unacceptable treatment of an animal but no indication downed animals were processed as charged) then shutter a plant gainfully employing 450 people and curtail contracted purchases in a terrified spasm of damage control.
    USDA knew they had been asleep at the switch and so did the anti-agriculture extremists who infiltrated and sabotaged the plant. Instead of calmly investigating the situation, USDA lurched to a conclusion of guilty until proven innocent. USDA had no business entertaining the extremist’s heavily edited (and possibly staged) smear video in the first place.
    Vilsack should step down and every USDA employee with even the remotest involvement in this disgusting fiasco should be fired. The key USDA screwups who accepted the video and ordered the shutdown should be prosecuted and jailed for the damage they caused. Put the reckless USDA ******* in jail and treat them to the meatless Mondays they like to promote for other people. These miserable public sector scabs have all the easy answers so they would do just fine among the ranks of the unemployed. No need to shed any tears for them.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Wow, everything’s all better now, eh?
    Just like that?

  • doc raymond

    Shelley, I am with you on this one. Merle, your language is terrible and should have been filtered out. If you read my FSN OpEd on this issue, you should have learned that the inspection was suspended in compliance with the Humane Handling Act, not because downers went into the food supply. The USDA did their job. They are not in the pens 24/7. They are not responsible for humane handling, the plant is responsible and they got caught for not enforcing. Makes no difference who shot the actual footage–a violation is a violation.

  • susan rudnicki

    Merle—and no need to shed any tears for your feckless analysis justifying “gainful employment of 450 people” You aren’t going to get off easy lecturing me or the rest of the people who have some sense of merciful compassion for the animals tortured to render your overflowing plateful of food. Of course, people like you are worried only about ALL things “economic” You have a twisted moral compass that justifies sliming “extremist’s heavily edited and possibly staged smear video” to weakly support your rant against “public sector scabs” Your argument position is the same adopted by every hooligan since the dawn of photography—in the face of incontrovertible evidence, the morally depraved shout “Staged evidence!” and crucify the messenger.

  • http://downercattle.blogspot.com/ Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

    say there Merle, tell that to the children across the USA that were fed deadstock downer cows via the Westland Hallmark blunder. if not for that video, those parents would have never known about the fact that their children were exposed to the most high risk cattle for mad cow type disease, and for the next 50 years, will have to wonder if they get CJD. if not for that video, there would never have been one of the largest recalls of meat in American history at the time, for animal abuse, when in reality, in my opinion, it was as much child abuse as anything, because the company KNEW what they were doing, and in the case of Central Valley Meat, they knew what they were doing. just because no documentation of said meat could be found to have been linked to NSLP, _this time_, does not mean it never happened in the past. or did it? in my opinion, because of what the film did show, and the fact this facility approved by the USDA for the NSLP, i think for the USDA to allow them again, to produce product for the NSLP, is a disgrace, and if i were a school district that participated in the NSLP, and was getting product for my students from Central Valley Meat, in my opinion, and in my heart, i would have to refuse it.
    and the said “industry saboteurs (video illustrating an unfortunate instance of unacceptable treatment of an animal but no indication downed animals were processed as charged”, should be given a medal, in my opinion, for if not for these brave people, the consumer would never know about these consistant breaches in food safety protocols.
    Merle, your attitude is exactly what is wrong with your industry. they call it greed $ and sadly, even in 2012, i would expect nothing less. …
    Saturday, May 2, 2009
    U.S. GOVERNMENT SUES WESTLAND/HALLMARK MEAT OVER USDA CERTIFIED DEADSTOCK DOWNER COW SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM
    http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2009/05/us-government-sues-westlandhallmark.html
    DID YOUR CHILD CONSUME SOME OF THESE DEAD STOCK DOWNER COWS, THE MOST HIGH RISK FOR MAD COW DISEASE ???
    you can check and see here ;
    http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/safety/pdf/Hallmark-Westland_byState.pdf
    Saturday, May 26, 2012
    Are USDA assurances on mad cow case ‘gross oversimplification’?
    SNIP…
    What irks many scientists is the USDA’s April 25 statement that the rare disease is “not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.”
    The USDA’s conclusion is a “gross oversimplification,” said Dr. Paul Brown, one of the world’s experts on this type of disease who retired recently from the National Institutes of Health.
    “(The agency) has no foundation on which to base that statement.”
    “We can’t say it’s not feed related,” agreed Dr. Linda Detwiler, an official with the USDA during the Clinton Administration now at Mississippi State.
    In the May 1 email to me, USDA’s Cole backed off a bit. “No one knows the origins of atypical cases of BSE,” she said
    The argument about feed is critical because if feed is the cause, not a spontaneous mutation, the California cow could be part of a larger outbreak.
    SNIP…
    http://bseusa.blogspot.com/2012/05/are-usda-assurances-on-mad-cow-case.html
    ==============================================
    Saturday, August 4, 2012
    Final Feed Investigation Summary – California BSE Case – July 2012
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/final-feed-investigation-summary.html
    =============================================
    SUMMARY REPORT CALIFORNIA BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY CASE INVESTIGATION JULY 2012
    Summary Report BSE 2012
    Executive Summary
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/summary-report-california-bovine.html
    Saturday, August 4, 2012
    Update from APHIS Regarding Release of the Final Report on the BSE Epidemiological Investigation
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/update-from-aphis-regarding-release-of.html
    in the url that follows, I have posted
    SRM breaches first, as late as 2011.
    then
    MAD COW FEED BAN BREACHES AND TONNAGES OF MAD COW FEED IN COMMERCE up until 2007, when they ceased posting them.
    then,
    MAD COW SURVEILLANCE BREACHES.
    Friday, May 18, 2012
    Update from APHIS Regarding a Detection of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States Friday May 18, 2012
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/05/update-from-aphis-regarding-detection.html
    Monday, August 27, 2012
    Central Valley Meat Company: USDA Did its Job, OK?
    Opinion & Contributed Articles
    by Dr. Richard Raymond | Aug 27, 2012 Opinion
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008)
    http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2012/08/central-valley-meat-company-usda-did.html
    Monday, September 3, 2012
    Sale of misbranded and/or non-inspected meat and meat products to Omaha Public Schools indicted
    http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2012/09/sale-of-misbranded-andor-non-inspected.html
    our children deserve better. …
    TSS

  • Ted

    Hmmm….no food safety problem after all. This food producer was supposed to have USDA inspectors on premises. Isn’t that the deal? Why didn’t inspectors ever detect a problem? Why did they rely upon unreliable sources to suddenly spur them to inappropriate punitive action? How in hell does this make our food safer? Who’s the next target to be ceremoniously cuffed and stuffed immediately upon spurious accusation by his/her sworn enemy? Me? You?
    So many legitimate questions, so few straight answers. And some insist we need more government intruding in our lives. Bureaucrats have become servants to anarchists, now. Only a fool would grow any sort of business or hire more workers in such a hostile environment. We face less risk speculating in commodities markets and driving up food prices. Screw it, let the fabled safety net catch the 20million+ who are unemployed. They will probably all be comfortably employed in government before long anyway.

  • Jim

    USDA Over-Reaction?? Hardly — more likely a Typical Reaction to pressure from Industry and their Corporate Mouthpieces in Congress to get back to good ole’ Agribusiness as Usual.
    It’s the Meat Industry Bigwigs who daily monitor all this on their own close-circuit TV screens (see the film “Food Inc” for a look at Corporate Control Central at work) –who belong in Jail.
    And the last thing these Cheap Food Profiteers should be doing is feeding our kids!! (With highly lucrative contracts, of course).

  • John

    Hey Merle, the German NAZIs “gainfully employed” HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people… I guess we should have allowed them to continue operating also, right?

  • Felicia

    Merle’s language may be a little rough but his analysis is spot on. Stand your ground Merle. USDA got punked, the meatpacker got screwed, activists are doing an endzone dance on due process.

  • Kay

    Wow, the animal rights wacks seem to be out in force. Merle I agree with you, although I would have probably worded it a little differently. Temple Graden, who is the foremost authority on humane slaughter viewed the video and didn’t find any outrageous handling of the animals, but did make recommendations to improve some minor handling issues. USDA didn’t find any downer cows being put into the food chain. Oh, by the way Terry, we don’t have a mad cow problem in this country. We have a good program that tracks and prevents that and haven’t had a domestic case in quite a while. More animal rights hype. If the animal rights nuts were really concerned about the animals they would work with an industry to improve handling, not send in moles to abuse animals and then video it. Don’t say it doesn’t happen since it has been documented and admitted to by some of the skum who did it. If there is anyone profiting from all this, it is the animal rights wackos who do fund raising on the backs of the animals and an industry that feeds our nation. Go tell the wolves to not disembowel and eat a calf or elk before it is dead. Now that is cruelty and truly needs your attention. See if the wolf will work with you on that one, or if it makes a meal of you also.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Kay, your comment isn’t true. None of it.

  • Andrea M.

    When the term “Nazis” is tossed into the mix you know you’re dealing with certifiable tinfoil hat crazies. The only “terrible” thing I see about Merle’s “language” is his willingness to speak truth to righteousness. I’m pleased his opinion wasn’t “filtered” to protect the fragile bubble of an argument in support of USDA malfeasance. You go, Merle!

  • Jac

    A Muddian Troll Mole told me that you don’t have to try and counter information that hurts your case– all you have to do is to keep putting out disinformation under enough aliases and you can twist and skew the truth enough to make it unrecognizable — and easily derail the discussion.
    Mission accomplished FSN operatives.

  • Michael Bulger

    “A Muddian Troll Mole told me that you don’t have to try and counter information that hurts your case– all you have to do is to keep putting out disinformation under enough aliases and you can twist and skew the truth enough to make it unrecognizable — and easily derail the discussion.
    Mission accomplished FSN operatives.”
    This about sums up the state of the comments section on FSN. One bad apple…

  • Ted

    FSN should probably stop being so danged different standing out in the crowd and all. Comments around here on FSN should be rigorously censored to shine the most favorable possible light on extremist agendas. Just like so many other echo chamber websites on the internet. How else will activists succeed in misinforming and ultimately deluding the public? Don’t you FSN people realize the damage you’re doing to extremist campaigns by permitting dissenting opinion, reason and common sense to slip through? By recklessly publishing one good fact, a single intelligent concept you wantonly cause countless hours of activist effort to be undone. That is so rude and inconsiderate to hard working extremist shills it is just unacceptable. We mustn’t permit it.
    Also please publish more whining moaning complaining lamenting comments from key extremist shills. Those are so informative and entertaining I simply can’t get enough of them. The really sensational hateful ones that senselessly cuss out Monsanto and CAFOs and science in general — those are probably my favorite. See if you can’t get more of that out to us, would you please? Thanks so much!

  • Ruby

    These lofty philosophical encounters on Food Safety News seem always to end in name calling — “troll” being the preferred taunt, it would seem.
    Would it be too much to ask debaters to offer fact or reasonable opinion in the stead of cheesy epithets? When they are defeated might they be imposed upon to retreat gracefully? They could at least be original and not resort to copy/paste spamming (that is just plain lazy and not convincing at all).
    P.S. What the hell is a “Muddian”? Is it some sort of inside joke? If so, it is inconsiderate to leave so many kind readers out of the know.
    All in all, Food Safety News is the BEST forum on the internet. Variety gives it spice. Keep up the good work.

  • James E.

    Ted-the-Troll doesn’t like citizens who want to know about how their food is produced and likes to follow the Troll’s handbook (thanks Jac) where — all you have to do is to keep putting out disinformation under enough aliases and you can twist and skew the truth enough to make it unrecognizable — and easily derail the discussion.”
    The facts, however, are on the side of those who are questioning our industrialized food supply — with every right to do so.

  • Marc

    You must be new around these parts, Ruby. Muddian — as in Doc Mudd — who now flies under a number of aliases here on FSN. But Same Old; Same Old……..

  • ICBM
  • taylor james

    how do you think this problem had effected the beef cattle ranchers while it was shut down?