Following is a statement by Steven F. Spiritas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Supreme Beef Processors, Inc. and Supreme Beef Packers, Inc., on the companies’ decision to cease operations September 29, 2000.

“USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service has pursued a campaign of harassment, intimidation and disinformation against our company after we sought legal protection under the law, as is our Constitutional right, in hopes of saving our company. The federal government’s assault on our business following our court victories against USDA has left us with no other option than to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Their actions have taken away a successful family business, robbed our employees of their livelihood, and denied customers, including the school lunch program, of our product.

“We are disappointed in USDA’s decision to continue litigation, with its appeal of the Dallas Federal Court’s decision. Efforts by our company to have discussions with the department to resolve matters have been met with a deaf ear.

“Pursuit of unjustifiable changes in ground beef purchasing specifications for the school lunch program, implemented after the Dallas court decision of May 25th, has not only caused USDA difficulty in filling its purchase requirements, but has compelled the agency, and hence taxpayers, to pay excessive prices for its ground beef contracts.

“USDA admits there is nothing that any ground beef processor can do to remove Salmonella that is delivered in meat purchased from other USDA- inspected production facilities. Their unworkable “performance standard” has simply created a problem for which there are no solutions.

“Furthermore, USDA continues to use misleading estimates of Salmonella- caused food borne illness. The government lumps contamination levels of all poultry products together with beef to create an erroneous suggestion of risk to the consumer from beef products. USDA does not address separately the incidence levels of Salmonella in beef, and specifically in ground beef, when it comes to public health statistics. Their risk estimates of meat and poultry have never had anything to do with our company or with ground beef produced in the United States.

“We are very proud of our family-owned business’ reputation for providing high-quality and wholesome meat. We have never had even one case of food- borne illness linked to any of the billions of pounds of beef products we have provided to the public in our 30-year history.”