American journalism loves to break new stories, but it isn’t always good on following up. A piece in California’s Riverside Press-Enterprise bucks this trend. “Six Months Later, Did the Chino Beef Recall Produce Benefits?” is a comprehensive look at the effects of the massive beef recall prompted by mistreatment of cattle caught on video and the illegal slaughter of downer cows at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company.
The piece revisits the recall and reminds us that school lunch programs were some of the entities most affected by it. It also looks at issues such as how the recall affected beef exports and the U.S.’s reputation for safe food (poorly), and allows mouthpieces for various beef producer groups—the American Meat Institute, the National Meat Association—to complain that the recall was “overkill.”
Best of all, it contains this vignette, in which the reporters try to get Westland/Hallmark president Steve Mendell to comment on the fact that Agriculture Department officials have filed a claim against him to recover the $67.2 million cost of the recall:
Through his attorney, Mendell declined a request for an interview. He also declined to comment when contacted one recent morning at his oceanview Newport Beach home, where he was watering his flowers while wearing an In-N-Out Burger T-shirt.