LOS ANGELES, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday urged swift investigation and action following the February 17 recall of beef product from a California company.
"We urge swift investigation and action so that the public confidence in our food supply is not lost and a message is sent that mistreatment of animals will not be tolerated by anyone," Schwarzenegger said in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer.
Schwarzenegger also offered the full support of the California Department of Food and Agriculture in the investigation.
"My California Department of Food and Agriculture is prepared to support you in any way necessary," he said.
The U.S. Department of Agricultural (USDA) on Sunday ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef, the largest recall in U.S. history so far.
Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer said his department has evidence that the slaughterhouse -- Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. based in Chino, California -- did not routinely contact its veterinarian when cattle became non-ambulatory after passing inspection, violating health regulations.
The recall affects beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006, that came from the California slaughterhouse which provides meat to school lunch programs.
The company had been under fire for animal cruelty involving crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts.
An undercover video by the Humane Society organization surfaced showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts.
Two former employees were fired after being charged with animal abuse Friday. Meanwhile, five felony counts of animal cruelty and three misdemeanors were filed against a pen manager.
The case "represents one of the worst violations of food safety laws in the country and one of the most egregious cases of animal cruelty I've ever seen," said Schwarzenegger.
"Because the State of California has no jurisdiction in this matter, my administration stands ready to assist the U.S. Department of Agriculture in this investigation in any way possible," he said.
Protecting consumers, particularly children, from willful and deliberate violations of food safety laws is among the most important responsibilities of government, Schwarzenegger noted.
"If these allegations are proven to be true and an isolated case, we expect full criminal prosecution," he said. "If this is a willful and broad-based corporate practice, we urge you to shut the plant down and pursue full prosecution of those involved."