Utne Blogs > Environment

Scrutinizing the Meat Inspector

by Staff

Tags: beef, recall, meat, inspection, inspector, California, Westland/Hallmark, industry, Neal Westgerdes,

Amid last fall’s flurry of beef recalls, Meatpaper magazine interviewed Neal Westgerdes (article not available online), the overseer of all California meat inspectors—including those at Westland/Hallmark Meat, the firm responsible for the record 143-million-pound recall on February 17. There have been no reports of illness, but the industry’s integrity is in question. Now I can only read the interview, published in the Winter 2007 issue, with skepticism as Westgerdes explains how inspectors check in daily at all processing facilities and have on-site office space at slaughterhouses. “Consumers don’t get to go where I go and see what’s going on,” Westgerdes says, explaining inspectors’ role as defenders of the public interest. I wonder if Westgerdes would now be so quick to affirm that he confidently eats commercially raised meat, while hunting gives him ethical pause: “I don’t think those animals were put on this planet to satisfy our need for meat.”

Lisa Gulya