Hallmark/Westland is a large-scale California beef producer. Factory farming at its finest, I’d venture to guess. In case you hadn’t heard, this manufacturer has downed the industry—for now—by provoking a massive beef recall.

143 million pounds! It makes me want to cry. How many creatures were killed after it was shown this operation engaged in the illegal addition of “downer cows” to their for-human-consumption production line? At an average of 200 harvestable pounds per head (I’m guessing)—that’s 715,000 animals! Cry for their ineffectual lives. Cry for the wasted protein.

Though my mother wasn’t one of those, “eat everything on your plate, there are starving children in Africa who would kill for that food” kind of moms, I grew up with the waste-not mantra when it comes to food—meat especially. Almost no food goes to the trash in my house (but then, not everyone's got a goat). Indeed, meat in my home is treated as a luxury item—it typically gets cooked and consumed  the same day it’s bought. So 715,000 dead, unconsumed animals—over corporate greed!—is a horrible imponderable for me.

Make no mistake, there’s nothing about this recall that isn’t attributable to the avarice of producers scrounging for every way possible to get as much per pound on every cash cow in their employ. Here’s why:

“Downer cows” are the weak cows—so called for their inability to stand as a result of disease or injury. Sure, some are perfectly healthy when they go down, but a day or two of lying inert on the ground has a way of breaking down their immunological defenses. That’s why the law prohibits their use in the food supply. Their unwholesome, possibly infected muscle mass is a potential public health hazard of serious proportions.

Though no tainted meat has yet been found, the inclusion of at least three of these animals into our food chain is what spawned this recall. The public health concerns as well as the animal cruelty allegations (in fork-lifting these girls so they could come to market) have lit a methane fueled fire under the butts of those responsible. 

Producers know using downed cows isn’t legal—or ethical. But beef price per pound drops dramatically when they’ve got to be sold for use in pet food instead of for people. What did each one of those cows cost Hallmark/Westland? Their business, I hope. 143 million pounds at $1 wholesale? That’s only $143 Million dollars. But add in a whole lotta lawsuits from consumer groups, welfare organizations and the companies charged with distributing the tainted beef and it might just take ‘em over the edge.

Yep. Hallmark/Westland deserves to go down with the beef industry as we know it. Though the decreased consumer confidence in beef and its depressed price is likely to serve as mere temporary wake-up call, there is another silver lining in this fiasco:

Here’s to hoping more industry practice condemnation results from the exposure of egregious, look-the-other-way factory farming practices like this one. And maybe, just maybe, downer cows will get the euthanasia they deserve instead of the forklift-to-slaughterhouse trip that usually leads ‘em straight into our pet’s food supply.