A Face to our Shame

I’m undecided if Steve Mendell is the most ignorant person in the food industry, or the most evil.

The president of a slaughterhouse at the heart of the largest meat recall denied under oath on Wednesday, but then grudgingly admitted, that his company had apparently introduced sick cows into the hamburger supply.

He then tried to minimize the significance.

It’s rare that we get to see a face tied to issues with our food supply. Typically it’s only the institutions that are referred to – “Monsanto did this”, or “the USDA did that”.

Reading this piece from the New York Times, I got the impression that Mr. Mendel is just another in the long line of people who want to make their millions, doing so with little or no regard to the affect his company has on his consumers, either for good or for ill.

Of the 143 million pounds of beef that were recalled, about 50 million pounds went to school lunch programs or federal programs for the poor or elderly…

In other words, the people most likely to get sick and the people unable to afford organically raised, grass-fed beef.

I acknowledge that it’s hard work to mass produce food, and it’s likley even more difficult to make a profit if one is aiming at lower income markets. But where’s the sense of stewardship? Where’s the sense of responsibility in helping those that can’t help themselves? From most accounts I’ve read, Mr. Mendel and the others responsible for Hallmark beef recall, there was none of that.