The nation’s largest beef recall in 2008, involving 143 million pounds of beef, was sparked by activities at Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., based in Chino, California. A videotape shows workers at the slaughterhouse abusing cattle. The company claimed that all cattle at the plant were treated humanely, and that no meat from "downer" cows entered the food supply. "Downer" cows are cattle that are sick or injured and pose a greater risk of illnesses like mad cow disease. The Humane Society of the United States filed a lawsuit against Westland/Hallmark, alleging that its claims of humane treatment were fraudulent. In the videotape, workers are seen shocking sick cows with electric prods and dragging them with chains. The United States Department of Justice decided to intervene in the lawsuit, and seek to recover $150 million in taxpayer money that the company received during a five-year period. Westland/Hallmark used to be the second largest supplier of ground beef to the National School Lunch Program. According to a Justice Department lawyer, Westland/Hallmark’s alleged fraud could have impacted many of the nation’s children, which is a very serious concern.
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