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Where’s the beef . . . from?

John Dimsdale Feb 28, 2008
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Lisa Napoli: The Humane Society has sued the Department of Agriculture for allowing sick or crippled cattle to enter the food supply. That’s after the largest beef recall in history two weeks ago.

Today, a Senate subcommittee holds a hearing to how the Department handled the recall. Our D.C. bureau chief John Dimsdale says some senators will press the Department to release more information to the public in future food recalls.


John Dimsdale: When news of the record meat recall hit the headlines, consumers were unable to get a list of what stores and restaurants had bought the beef.

Caroline Smith DeWaal at the Center for Science in the Public Interest says the Agriculture Department considers store distribution lists proprietary commercial information.

Caroline Smith DeWaal: The press release the USDA puts out communicates only with the first buyer. And if you’re a consumer, you don’t necessarily have any way to tell if in fact that meat was part of the recall.

Consumer groups are asking the Agriculture Department to change the policy.

But Patrick Boyle, with the American Meat Institute, says publicizing distribution lists will only confuse consumers.

Patrick Boyle: If USDA were to come out and say this product was sold to such and such a grocery chain, that leaves consumers with the impression that maybe in the Northeast, that product was distributed when in fact the supplier only sent it to stores within that chain in the Southwest.

USDA officials are expected to tell senators today the Department is considering changing its disclosure policies later this year.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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