Westland/Hallmark undercover video discussed five years later

"I have a professional and personal connection to Westland/Hallmark" said Steve Sayer, former food safety occupational consultant at Westland/Hallmark Meat Company at the start of the afternoon session of the Animal Agriculture Alliance's 12th annual Stakeholders Summit. Dr. Richard Raymond, former Under-Secretary for the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service began the presentation by laying the regulatory groundwork behind the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

"I have a professional and personal connection to Westland/Hallmark" said Steve Sayer, former food safety occupational consultant at Westland/Hallmark Meat Company at the start of the afternoon session of the Animal Agriculture Alliance's 12th annual Stakeholders Summit. "I want everyone in this audience to keep in mind that the toughest question I got about WHMC was from my nine year old son."

Dr. Richard Raymond, former Under-Secretary for the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service began the presentation by laying the regulatory groundwork behind the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

"I remember the day I got the phone call about the undercover videos at WHMC just like I remember the day President Kennedy was shot from when I was a child," said Sayer who gave a very frank presentation about exactly what occurred at WHMC. "For the first time, my nine-year-old, who I coached in basketball and fed pizza, came up to me when I got home that night and asked, 'Daddy, how could you let that happen to those cows?'"

Sayer, after playing the video that the Humane Society of the United States released direct to the Washington Post and others on January 29, 2008, told the audience that the footage still upsets him to this day.

While Raymond and Sayer offered two completely different perspectives of what occurred that day, both described the utter shock that occurred when they watched the video footage for the first time, live on the evening news.

Further, both Raymond and Sayer agreed that the record-setting Class II recall, of approximately 147 million pounds, was the right thing to do. Although Raymond discussed that the health risk was extremely low, the recall was still a decision both Raymond and Sayer stood behind.

Raymond told the audience that his personal opinion is that these videos were meant to "repulse the meat consuming public," and that "for the most part, they [Humane Society of the United States] were very successful."

Both Raymond and Sayer continued to highlight the theme of transparency and communication that had been discussed during the day's previous presentations.
At the close of the presentation, Sayer read aloud a letter written by his son (now fourteen years old) to Dr. Raymond.

Said Sayer's son, "I was scared of my dad that night [January 29, 2008] and he told me to go to bed and pray. Today my prayers have come true, thanks to my dad, and you [Dr. Raymond] and the people at this conference who do care about their animals every day.

The 12th annual Stakeholders Summit, themed "Activists at the Door: Protecting Animals, Farms, Food and Consumer Confidence," began May 1, 2013, in Arlington, Virginia. The audience included approximately 200 leaders from across the food chain. Complete videos of all presentations, including the questions and the full text of Sayer's son's letter, are available online.

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