The U.S. Department of Justice announced that they have intervened in a civil lawsuit filed originally by the Human Society of the United States against Hallmark/Westland Meat Co. under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. In its complaint, HSUS alleges that Hallmark/Westland, once the second-largest supplier to the School Lunch Program, knowingly and falsely represented to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service that all cattle at the slaughtering facility were humanely handled in accordance with federal regulations and that no meat from disabled, non-ambulatory cattle was included in the AMS purchases.

"The alleged misrepresentations by Hallmark/Westland could have impacted the health of many of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens — our schoolchildren," said Tony West, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. "Our intervention in this case demonstrates how seriously we will pursue allegations such as these."

For the full release, click here.

This lawsuit demonstrates how effective HSUS has become in confusing animal-welfare issues with food safety, thus furthering their agenda. West’s comments ignore additional government and industry standards that protect against BSE and also ignore the fact that the government made its own mistakes in addressing the animal-mishandling allegations. USDA’s decision to issue the largest beef recall ever when no human illnesses were ever detected was only part of the debacle. — Greg Henderson, Drovers editor.