Food and Water Watch: USDA Urged to Disclose Where Recalled Meat Was Sold

February 21, 2008
12:00 PM

CONTACT: Food and Water Watch
Patty Lovera or Jen Mueller
(202) 683-2467

USDA Urged to Disclose Where Recalled Meat Was Sold

WASHINGTON, DC - February 21 - In a letter to the Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, seven consumer groups yesterday urged the USDA to issue an emergency rule to allow the agency to identify all of the outlets that purchased recalled ground beef from the Hallmark/Westland company. The groups also urged the agency to finish a long delayed rule change that would require the agency to list retailers that sold recalled meat and poultry products in official recall announcements.

Consumer groups have for years been urging the agency to release the identify of “retail consignees”, pointing out that consumers need more than just a code found in the fine print on a meat package –– they need to know what stores carry the product to increase the odds that they heed the recall notice and don’t eat possibly dangerous products. A USDA rule to make this change has been in the works for two years and, according to the agency, is now stuck in the departmental review process.

The massive recall of ground beef from the Hallmark/Westland plant in California, the largest recall in U.S. history, serves as just the latest example of why consumers need more information during product recalls, not less. The sheer volume of product involved in this recall means that millions of consumers may have purchased it. And because there has been widespread coverage of the fact that some of the recalled ground beef went to the National School Lunch Program, consumers might wrongly assume that they may not have purchased it themselves. But in fact, the majority of the meat entered wholesale markets, which means it did eventually reach consumers through large buyers of meat such as restaurants and buying clubs.

The letter was signed by the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Food & Water Watch, Government Accountability Project, and Safe Tables Our Priority.

The letter can be accessed here

Consumers can use the Eat Well Guide online to find safe meat in their area and support local farmers.

More background and common questions about the recall is available on the Food & Water Watch web site.