Meatpacker will likely close

Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing, which voluntarily suspended operations after the feds launched an investigation into how its animals were being treated, isn't expected to reopen. The company's general manager told the WSJ that cash has become tight and some customers stopped payment on meat that had become part of a massive recall. "I don't see any way we could reopen," Anthony Magidow told the paper in a story posted this morning. In the best of times, it's a low-margin business, and something like this could easily put the small Chino slaughterhouse/meat packer over the edge. As far as I could tell from a Web search, Hallmark/Westland has been around since the late 1980s. Annual sales are around $100 million.

Federal food-safety regulators said Thursday that 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 Mr. Magidow, 46 years old, who has worked at the company for more than 15 years. "There's no way we could pay it all back."

All this began after the Humane Society released an undercover video showing workers trying to make sick or injured cows stand up with electrical-shock devices, forklifts and high-pressure water hoses. Last October, Topps Meat Co. in New Jersey closed its business six days after it was forced to recall burger patties that may have been contaminated with the potentially fatal E. coli bacteria.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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