Minnetonka, Minn.-based Cargill is one of the nation's largest beef processors. Federal workplace regulators this week cited Cargill Inc.'s Milwaukee beef slaughterhouse for 23 serious safety violations, the most violations the agribusiness giant has received at any of its U.S. plants in at least a decade.
The U.S. Labor Department says one of the nation's largest meatpackers systematically discriminated against more than 4,000 qualified applicants who sought entry-level jobs at a turkey processing plant in Arkansas. The government seeks to cancel more than $550 million in contracts with the U.S. Defense Department and prevent future contracts until the company stops what they call discriminatory practices.
The U.S. Justice Department revealed that Kexue Huang, a Chinese national, has pleaded guilty of stealing secret information from Cargill and from a second U.S. agribusiness, Dow AgroSciences. In both cases, Huang then passed those secrets back to China.
"Some will say these tragedies confirm all that is wrong with how food is grown, distributed and sold in the U.S. and much of the developed world," Minneapolis columnist Eric Wieffering writes. "I'd argue the opposite: that the recalls prove that the U.S. food safety system works far better than most people give it credit for."
The first sickness was in March. The first outbreak signs appeared in May. So why the wait? Tracking down the source of an illness is a difficult, complicated business, and federal officials defended the months-long process today by saying they wanted to be absolutely sure before they asked Cargill to initiate the third-largest meat recall in history.
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