On February 17, 2008, the Agriculture Department had ordered the largest meat recall in its history, 143 million pounds of beef was to be recalled. the meat was distributed by Westland Meat and the recall included the entire production for the past two years -- because the company allowed ailing animals to enter the U.S. food supply.
The recall comes less than three weeks after the release of a videotape showing what the USDA later called "egregious violations" of federal animal care regulations by employees of a Westland partner, Hallmark Meat Packing in Chino.
All four manufacturers have admitted to news organizations that they have recalled certain products containing meat from the meatpacking company Hallmark/Westland.
Some specific products recalled from those companies.
Progresso Italian Wedding soup because it contained beef from a supplier that received meat from Hallmark/Westland. A company spokeswoman said she couldn’t say whether all of the product had been removed from store shelves yet; each case of soup contains between six and 12 cans. Nestlé said it recalled some boxes of Hot Pockets sandwiches that contain beef from a vendor that used Hallmark/Westland, including some Philly Steak & Cheese sandwiches and some Croissant Crust Philly Steak & Cheese sandwiches sold in two-pack boxes. A Nestlé spokeswoman said the recall involves about 49,000 cases of Hot Pockets; each case contains eight boxes. Nestlé told retailers to remove the product from stores. Minnesota supermarket chain Supervalu, Inc., said it began removing the Progresso soup and Hot Pockets items, as well as some frozen ground-beef patties linked to the recall. A spokeswoman for Hormel Foods Corporation said no Hormel products were recalled; however, one of its subsidiaries—Southern California’s Farmer John’s—will recall a “small amount” of hot dogs and cotto salami.
The manufacturers are known to consumers now, but the retailers that obtained the meat and sold those products are not.
This includes over 10,000 establishments, food distributors, processors, grocery stores and restaurants.
The meat was sent to 10,000 establishments but because some of those were distributors, that meat was then distributed to other retailers and without a full list of those retailers, consumers have no idea who could still have products which contain this meat.
The department's undersecretary for food safety, Richard Raymond, told the House Appropriation's agriculture panel, that due to bureaucratic delays, a rule change that would have allowed them to release the names of the retailers has been delayed for two years.
After two years and those proposed rule changes have not been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for approval, although the USDA and the budget office has been "informally" discussing the new rule.
That answer didn't satisfy some lawmakers. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D., N.Y.) said the names of the companies are not proprietary, and he requested that the USDA provide information by the middle of next week.
"This is a very, very critically important issue," he said. "If we have stores that are selling bad products, we should know about it."
According to the Wall Street Journal article, most of the meat has already been consumed but USDA's Dr. Richard Raymond asserts that some of that meat may have been used in canned foods that still may be on grocers shelves.
With that said, USDA officials maintain that it is "extremely unlikely" that the recalled meat poses a risk to human health and no there have been no reports of illness from this meat.
Due to a California law that was enacted last year, consumers in that state now have access to a partial list of the names of the retailers that received shipments
California officials released a list of supermarkets, restaurants, retailers and school districts in its state that received the recalled meat.
Here is the PDF file, 126 pages long of that list from the California Department of Public Health.