We have seen some good work in the past from Philip Brasher, who works out of the Washington, D.C. bureau for the Des Moines Register.  On Sunday, Brasher took on the Chino slaughterhouse scandal, which led to the largest recall of beef in U.S. history.

We found it compelling reading.  Brasher seems to hit the nail on the head with the reasoning that what is really at stake is trust in the USDA brand worldwide.   We have suspected the Chino scandal coming just as USDA was on the verge of getting US beef back into Japan and South Korea could not have occurred at a worst time.

Brasher found a top US food executive delivering just that message.  Larry Pope, chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods, is quoted in the Register story saying:

"Every time an incident like this happens, it hurts everybody in this room," he warned a conference of agribusiness leaders. Consumers "trust that USDA stamp a little bit less. When we go overseas they trust the United States a little bit less."

Brasher goes on to report that USDA has not yet gone public with results of nation-wide audit of beef plants that it ordered after last year’s "rash of E coli related recalls."  Purpose of the audit was to what controls meat packers have in place to combat E coli.

Go here to read all of the Brasher story.