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Adulterated meat recalled from slaughterhouse

Our industrial factory food production system has made many food items relatively inexpensive, in terms of sticker price. Much of our food is very low-cost, and that is due, in part to the ruthless efficiency of the production. While the food industry likes to rely on images of bucolic family farms to sell their products, the interiors of many of the factories are indistinguishable from factories building all manner of consumer goods.

When something goes wrong with that product, the effects can be widespread because one price we pay for all that efficiency is that there must be significant volume in product distribution to make all of that industrial factory equipment cost effective. The production of adulterated meat from a slaughterhouse in California has caused a recall of the defective product from 45 states, including Minnesota.

The meat packing plant apparently failed to have full federal meat inspection, which is mandatory at slaughterhouses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the words of one attorney, was "throwing the book at them" for their violations. Newspapers reported that they slaughtered cows with eye cancer. The recall investigation could result in criminal charges.

More than 5,000 retail outlets have been affected by the recall, and the slaughterhouse provides meat to numerous other food processors. Hot Pockets were one nationally distributed product that was pulled from the shelves because of the recall.

No cases of illness have been attributed to the adulterated meat, but given the risk of food-borne disease, from E. coli and salmonella to mad cow disease, and the widespread distribution of potentially contaminated products, it seems appropriate that the USDA is employing severe sanctions.

Source: StarTribune.com, "Minn. added to beef recall list after Calif. slaughterhouse closed," Mike Hughlett, March 12, 2014

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