In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry.

In the last edition of Meat Wagon, we mentioned the scandal at an industrial-scale slaughterhouse in California, where workers had been caught on videotape torturing severely sick ("downer") cows. Horrifically enough, the workers were abusing the enfeebled animals in an attempt to get them stagger to slaughter — where their flesh would be mixed with that of other cows, and sent to market.

More horrifically still, the slaughterhouse in question is a major supplier of beef to the National School Lunch Program.

Evidently, the idea of tortured-downer-cow burgers gracing the menus of school cafeterias across the country was too much even for the USDA. In response to the videotape — produced and distributed by the heroic Humane Society of the United States — the USDA has imposed the most massive meat recall in U.S. history on the slaughterhouse, affecting a jawdropping 143 million pounds of frozen beef.

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(According to a proprietary Meat Wagon formula, that’s equivalent to approximately 572 million — more than half a billion — Quarter Pounders).

But the real jawdropper is this:

Officials estimate that about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, but they believe most of the meat probably has already been eaten.

The USDA is evidently shocked that industrial meat packers hustle downer cows to slaughter and into the nation’s food supply. Funny how it took a scrappy non-profit rather than federal inspectors to uncover the story.

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