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Meatpacking Plant Said Likely to Fold Thanks to Recall

CHINO, Calif. -- Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co., which launched the biggest recall of meat in the nation's history earlier this month, is poised to shut down for good, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

"I don't see any way we could reopen," Anthony Magidow, the meatpacker's general manager, told the Journal.

The meatpacker voluntarily suspended operations early this month, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture began investigating how it treated animals in the wake of a video shot under cover from inside the plant and distributed by The Humane Society.

The relatively small processor has been under severe financial pressure since the shut down, with some customers stopping payment on checks issued for product that ended up being swept into the massive recall of 143 million pounds of beef.

The Journal reported that Federal regulators said they intend to require that Hallmark/Westland, a leading supplier to the National School Lunch Program, pay for the costs associated with destroying and replacing meat submitted to the program.

"If the USDA wants payment back, we're dead meat. We're done," said Magidow. "There's no way we could pay it all back."

The video showed plant workers forcing downer cows to the slaughter, which is against USDA regulations. Cows that can't walk or stand on their own are generally prohibited from slaughter under federal rules because they are believed to carry higher risks of diseases including mad-cow disease.
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