A federal lawsuit against the now-closed Westlund/Hallmark Meat Co. alleges that the Chino, Calif., meatpacker used downer cattle for four years and hid that fact from U.S. officials. The amended complaint is part of a lawsuit filed against the company earlier this year, according to AP reports.

The government recalled 143 million pounds of beef from the plant in 2008 after undercover video showed the mistreatment of downer cattle, which were too sick to stand and enter the slaughterhouse by themselves. Donald Hallmark, listed as a partner in the lawsuit, told the Associated Press that he retired six years ago and had no comment.

Source: Associated Press

American Veal Association urges opposition to unfair Michigan legislation

The American Veal Association (AVA) has issued a statement urging Michigan senators to oppose H5127, which the association feels unfairly requires that Michigan veal producers transition to group housing within 12 months while giving Michigan pork and poultry producers 10 years to make the transition.

“In 2007, the AVA Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution calling for an industry-wide transition to group housing by 2017”, said Chip Lines-Burgess, AVA President. “Today, we estimate that 30% of the industry has already moved in that direction. The one-year time frame contained in the Michigan legislation for veal producers is unfair and completely disregards the leadership shown by the veal industry which is working within a more aggressive time frame than any other livestock group to move to group housing.”

HB 5127 passed the Michigan House of Representatives on September 16 and has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee. The bill prohibits the use of stalls or cages for pork, egg and veal producers while providing a transition period for producers to meet the prohibition.

Todd Haynes, a Michigan veal producer says the legislation caught him by surprise.

“It seems to me that if pork and egg producers have ten-years to make changes on their farms, veal producers should get the same amount of time to make changes,” argues Haynes. The AVA calls for state senators to remove veal from the bill completely or amend the transition period so that veal producers are given the same consideration as pork and egg producers to make the transition in a reasonable time frame.

“During these difficult economic times, this legislation, as written, will do nothing more than put Michigan veal producers like Todd Haynes out of business and eliminate the market for male dairy calves,” says Lines-Burgess. “We believe that veal producers are best able to determine how to make the transition to group housing within the time frame developed by the AVA and not be forced out of business by an arbitrary and unfair deadlines.”

The National Provisioner recently wrote about the subject of the raising of veal calves in its article, “Raised Right,” which can be viewed at http://www.provisioneronline.com/Articles/Cover_Story/BNP_GUID_9-5-2006_A_10000000000000651712

Source: American Veal Association

Missouri company recalls 756 pounds of Braunschweiger labeled as bologna

Frick's Quality Meats, a Washington, Mo., establishment, is recalling approximately 756 pounds of Braunschweiger liver sausage products because they were inadvertently packaged with a premium bologna label and contain undeclared milk ingredients. Milk is a known potential allergen that is not declared on the label.

The product subject to recall is 16-ounce chubs of "Frick's, Quality Meats Since 1896, Premium Bologna, Poultry Free." Each chub package bears "Use By: DEC 15-09" and the establishment number "EST. 2949" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The Braunschweiger liver sausage products were produced on Aug. 13, 2009, and were distributed to retail stores in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. The problem was discovered by the company following a product check. FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products.

Source: FSIS

R-CALF opposes JBS-Pilgrim's deal

R-CALF USA sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice and requested that it block the merger of JBS SA and Pilgrim's Price Corp., which was announced earlier this month.

"The demand and price for cattle is influenced by the supply and price of competing proteins such as pork and poultry, and prices received by R-CALF USA members for their cattle are particularly susceptible to increased poultry supplies," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "We estimate that JBS’ share of fed cattle packing capacity in the U.S. is now over 25 percent, and with the acquisition of the vertically integrated Pilgrim's Pride – which controls over 20 percent of U.S. poultry production – JBS could further manipulate the competing protein market in the United States."

The organization is concerned that JBS would be able to manipulate both live cattle and beef prices by varying the output of Pilgrim's Pride's poultry operation and the price of its poultry.

“Given the long biological cycle of cattle, JBS could enjoy several years’ worth of maximized profits as a result of lowering poultry prices to reduce demand for live cattle – a period when both cattle producers and beef consumers could easily be exploited because JBS could quickly raise the price of both poultry and beef after cattle prices are reduced,” Bullard explained. “JBS and Pilgrim’s Pride are currently fierce competitors in the meat protein market, and a merger between the two would most definitely reduce competition and result in the exploitation of both producers and consumers. We urge the U.S. Department of Justice to vigorously investigate the antitrust and anticompetitive aspects of this proposal and take all necessary enforcement action to prevent its consummation.”

Source: R-CALF USA