Monday, March 17


"The operations manager at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. knew about cruelty and food safety violations at the Chino plant and, in at least one case, he ordered it, an ex-employee said in an interview from jail. Stan Mendell, the brother of company president Steven Mendell, once instructed workers to lift a fallen bull to its feet with a forklift so it could be slaughtered, said former worker Rafael Sanchez Herrera, who has been charged with animal cruelty."

The whole article, from the Press-Enterprise, which continues to own this story with ongoing exhaustive reporting, is worth a read. Here's the lead anecdote, spelled out: "Sanchez said he remembers Stan Mendell stopping at the pens leading to the slaughterhouse one afternoon last August or September before getting in his nearby car to go home. A bull with an injured foot had collapsed. Mendell ordered Ugarte, who in turn ordered Sanchez, to lift the fallen animal to its feet using a forklift, Sanchez said. 'It was Stanley that told us to do it,' Sanchez said, adding: 'Stanley watched.'"

In short: "Sanchez said he does not know if Steven Mendell was aware of abuse of collapsed cows. But Stan Mendell knew, he said." Well, it's a good question how much Steve Mendell knew. But given the two of them were brothers, it stretches credulity to belive the CEO was as shocked as he professed in his infamous hearing.

UPDATE 3/21: "How well do owners know their meat companies?" asks the Capital Press. And: "Why would [Mendell] have agreed to a voluntary massive recall he knew he would destroy his company if he hadn't seen all the evidence and thought it wasn't a safety problem?"

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