Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Undercover video, inhumane treatment of cows, hamburger horrors

Ban on downer cows
Ban on downer cows

In a nutshell: According to this ABC article, the animal rights group, Compassion Over Killing, filmed an undercover video showing electrically prodded cows and downer animals going into the food supply. The food at this Calif. slaughterhouse supplied 20 to 30 percent of meat for In-n-Out Burger and USDA national school lunch programs. In-n-Out has since cancelled its contract.

This video is shocking (viewer beware)

from a press release distributed by the U.S. FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service)

WASHINGTON, August 21, 2012—The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to take aggressive action to investigate and respond to disturbing evidence of inhumane treatment of cattle at Central Valley Meat in Hanford, Calif. Central Valley Meat was notified by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) that the agency was immediately suspending the assignment of inspectors at the establishment on August 19, effectively halting slaughter operations at the establishment.

Within hours of being provided video taken by an animal welfare organization, the Department initiated an investigation. USDA has dispatched several teams of investigators to California and continues to gather information on the ground.

In terms of humane handling, FSIS found violations and suspended the mark of inspection. The teams will continue to examine the violations which have been documented in the video provided.

In terms of food safety, the video footage provided to USDA does not show a “downer” animal entering the food supply. However, the Department is conducting a thorough investigation that encompasses food safety and will respond appropriately to its results.

“Our top priority is to ensure the safety of the food Americans feed their families,” said Al Almanza, Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service. “We have reviewed the video and determined that, while some of the footage provided shows unacceptable treatment of cattle, it does not show anything that would compromise food safety. Therefore, we have not substantiated a food safety violation at this time. We are aggressively continuing to investigate the allegations.”

USDA food safety regulations state that, if an animal is non-ambulatory disabled at any time prior to slaughter, it must be condemned promptly, humanely euthanized, and properly discarded so that it does not enter the food supply.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe, wholesome, and accurately labeled, and also works to ensure industry’s compliance with poultry good commercial practices and with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA), which requires that livestock be handled and slaughtered in a humane way.

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