Feb 18, BBC News

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has ordered the recall of 143m lb (64.9m kg) of beef - the largest meat recall in the country's history.

It comes from a company in California, which officials said allowed meat from cattle unable to stand at the time of slaughter to enter the food chain.

But the USDA said the health hazard was minimal. Much of the meat was purchased for federal nutrition programmes.

The meat-packing plant is also being investigated for animal cruelty.

The USDA had suspended operations there after an undercover video came to light showing crippled and sick animals being mistreated.


The USDA recalled frozen beef products from the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co in Chino, dating back to 1 February 2006.

The move surpasses a 1999 recall of 35m lbs of ready-to-eat meats, officials said.

Some of the beef was destined for federal welfare assistance programmes, as well as some major fast-food chains.

But officials said most of the recalled meat has probably already been eaten.

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photo: An employee treads on scraps from animal carcasses at the Hallmark Meat Packing slaughterhouse in Chino, California. Workers at the plant are also accused of animal cruelty (AP)