Recent Press Releases

Rapid City, SD —  Senator John Thune stated today that he is assessing the facts behind Sunday's nationwide 143 million pound beef recall, the largest in U.S. history. This recall affects beef products processed and distributed by the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company located in California.

"I have no doubt in my own mind that America's beef supply is the safest in the world," said Thune. "No one has reportedly become sick from consuming any of the beef covered by this recall. The recall appears to be more related to inhumane treatment of livestock prior to slaughter."

Thune has questions both for USDA and the meatpacking industry relating to this recent recall. "Are there other meat processing plants ignoring current food safety rules and if there are, how can we improve our food safety inspection system to better identify those plants that are breaking the law? We must find out the answers to these questions before Congress takes action.

"The livestock industry cannot afford to have any doubts raised about the safety of its meat products here at home or abroad. Unacceptable incidents like the processing of unreported `downer livestock' in the California plant, and the inhumane treatment of these cattle are not what the livestock industry needs right now. Higher feed and other costs are already reducing livestock producers' bottom line. South Dakota livestock producers don't need the adverse publicity from incidents like this, which can trigger consumer fears for food safety," said Thune.

Senator Thune, a Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is waiting for factual information from both the meatpacking industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) before making a decision as to whether further Congressional action, such as a Senate Agriculture Committee investigative hearing, is needed to protect both livestock producers and consumers.

The USDA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is currently investigating the California meatpacking plant and its operations have been suspended. After completion of the OIG investigation, USDA may then impose applicable penalties/fines against the meatpacking firm.