The Checkout

Your meat isn't sick. It's just non-ambulatory.

Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. record recall of 143.4 million pounds of raw and frozen beef products has sparked a bit of a debate over what it means to be sick.

For those of you just tuning in, this California plant had to recall two year's worth of ground beef products after the Humane Society of the U.S. released an undercover video showing workers using a fork lift to shove cows who couldn't stand up into the slaughterhouse. A company spokesman told the Post that senior management didn't know about the inhumane practices.

The USDA press operation has taken pains to try to correct reporters who have described the cows who mysteriously were no longer able to stand after passing a pre-slaughter inspection just a few hours earlier as "sick" instead of their preferred word, which is "non-ambulatory." Their reasoning is the animals may not be suffering from a disease but perhaps merely broke their legs. In those situations, USDA regulations require the plant to notify a USDA veterinarian to re-inspect the animals before they're slaughtered to make sure they don't have mad cow or some other condition that would render them unfit for human consumption. According to USDA, the plant didn't do that in this case.

To the average person, having a broken limb counts as not being in perfect health. But it's interesting that the USDA would take pains to make this distinction given that the take away from the recall so far is the agency was caught unawares about such practices. Since no veterinarian re-inspected the animals, how does USDA know why they suddenly were no longer able to stand? Aren't those cows ground chuck by now?

(By the way, non-ambulatory animals that are approved for slaughter are labeled "U.S. Suspect." Jargon is great.)

I guess the distinction matters if you're trying to reassure consumers that there's not much chance they will get sick from eating this meat. USDA is basing that on the likelihood that most of the meat has already been consumed, and as far as they know, there have been no outbreaks associated with it.

As for the word non-ambulatory, I plan to embrace it wholeheartedly. Next time I'm feeling under the weather or have a cold, I plan to tell my boss that I am non-ambulatory. I'll let you know how that works.

How is this recall going to affect your next trip to the grocery store? Or is it?

By Annys Shin |  February 19, 2008; 4:00 PM ET Consumer News
Previous: Getting Schooled on the Cost of College Textbooks | Next: Where's the beef?

Comments

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just because a cow's legs are broken, it does not mean the meat is bad
What hoopla over nothing!Q!!!

Posted by: alex wijesinghe | February 19, 2008 4:45 PM

"...but perhaps merely broke their legs." How does a cow, humanely treated, "merely" break its legs? And if it breaks merely 2 legs, should it still drag itself to the slaughter pen, or can it be assisted via forklift?

Posted by: w taylor | February 19, 2008 4:52 PM

These were/are disgusting images that should make us all ashamed to eat 'production' meats/poultry. But, that said, this (and worse) has probably gone on for ages...only to be horribly exposed in this 'cameras everywhere' world we now live in. While these images are enough for most of us to wish for change - the sad part is that 99% will conveniently forget about it by the next time they order up their next hamburger.

Posted by: cmw347 | February 19, 2008 4:53 PM

Alex,
The point is, they do not know why the cows could not stand because the veterinarian was not called to inspect them.
The result is "mystery meat."

Posted by: Farmboy | February 19, 2008 4:56 PM

I am shocked that people are not more concerned about the health of these animals. I am absolutely disgusted that people are not up in arms over the way these animals were treated. Have we become so immune to torture and distress that the scenes recorded by the Humane Society are "hoopla over nothing?"

With every second that passes after watching these videos, I become more and more likely to never eat red meat again. While I am concerned about the safety of the (supposed) consumed meat, I am more concerned by the moral implications of supporting an industry that tacitly condones the torture of animals and then hides behind semantics to justify their actions.

Posted by: Mad Cow | February 19, 2008 4:56 PM

hey MAdcow,

are you a vetrinarian?

Posted by: happy cow | February 19, 2008 5:00 PM

The worst of the Nazi war crimes pale in comparison to this. Breaking an animal's legs, dragging it across a concrete floor, Picking it up with a mechanical fork lift and prodding it into place for execution.

I hope there is such a thing as rebirth and that those perpetrators are reborn as cows.

Posted by: Alan Neimi | February 19, 2008 5:00 PM

how now down cow

Posted by: randy | February 19, 2008 5:00 PM

Humans are the sickest animals. Who can can they do this to others and call them self intelligent.

Posted by: cowman | February 19, 2008 5:03 PM

If God didn't intend for them to be eaten, why would He make them out of meat?

Posted by: coinside | February 19, 2008 5:07 PM

"The worst of the Nazi war crimes pale in comparison to this."

This is a ridiculous statement .

Posted by: Michael C. | February 19, 2008 5:07 PM

"The worst of the Nazi war crimes pale in comparison to this."

You really need to get a grip.

Using HUMAN skin for lamp shades 'pales' next to the treatment of these COWS? I don't think it's even close.

Posted by: Dan Knight | February 19, 2008 5:12 PM

Eating animals or eating meat that has come from farms that feed organic, do not use antibiotics or hormones, and even are humane in slaughter (if that is possible) is as easy as shopping at Whole Foods for your meat or other vendors that support humane treatment of animals. It's really not that hard to give up eating flesh altogether and it acts as daily meditation for respect for life that is an added benefit beyond better health. Peta is actually a very good organization for investigating this choice.

Posted by: Dr Foulkes | February 19, 2008 5:12 PM

"If God didn't intend for them to be eaten, why would He make them out of meat?"

That is the dumbest statement I have ever heard.

Posted by: MooCow | February 19, 2008 5:14 PM

Although I can't agree with the actions of the slaughter house nor the failings of the USDA, I have to take issue with the plain ignorance of the author. Simply put- the level of understanding the author demonstrates is probably at about the fifth grade.

Posted by: Doc Concerned for U | February 19, 2008 5:17 PM

@coinside "If God didn't intend for them to be eaten, why would He make them out of meat?"

Humans are made of meat too.

If God didn't intend for us to be eaten, why would He make us out of meat?

Posted by: cuppa | February 19, 2008 5:19 PM

"The worst of the Nazi war crimes pale in comparison to this."
I agree. The Nazis exterminated humans - their species. Needless cruelty to animals we consume is worse.

Posted by: cuppa | February 19, 2008 5:22 PM

'Nazi war crimes pale'!??. How many human lives does it take to equal one animal in your mind? Leave knee-jerk emotional and offensive rhetoric out of it. Animals are food that most people in the world depend on, except the rich and arrogant.

This is an example of ANIMAL cruelty and unsafe food processing methods, which are both against the law. The law should be enforced and culprits arrested.

Posted by: bruce | February 19, 2008 5:25 PM

I like chicken, I like liver, meow mix meow mix please deliver!

Posted by: Joe | February 19, 2008 5:26 PM

Non ambulatory means MAD COW Disease. A broken leg would have been noticed way before the cow had reached the place where they had walked to.

The FDA should test the meat for this illness -- in several years we will be seeing many cases of this disease arise. It is horrible. I was in the UK when this all started and the only way to stop its spread is to kill off the cattle.

My view is that one human life is worth all the cows in the world.

Posted by: Annette36 | February 19, 2008 5:26 PM

Where's the BEEF?

Posted by: Clara | February 19, 2008 5:26 PM

I find the situation with these packers butchering and processing "down" cattle for human consumption within the borders of the United States a scandal of immense proportion. As an Illinois grain farmer who used to raise livestock, I can state quite frankly, that no farm family would consume meat from "downer" cattle nor hogs. There are many forms of illness that could cause the poor creatures to be non-amulatory, and some of these conditions could manifest themselves in the meat. I have been out of the livestock production business for 15 years, but raised cattle and hogs for nearly 35 years. The reason I left the industry was because the factory farms made it uneconomical for smaller producers to continue to produce. With the advent of more and more factory farms, it became apparent to me that the quality and healthfulness of some of the meat was declining to the point that my family refrains from eating any beef and pork except the very top choice cuts from the very best suppliers. Our diet consists mostly of chicken and turkey prepared with beef and pork served on rare occasions. The livestock industry is controlled at present time by huge conglomerate mega producers who are frequently vertically integrated in the market place. The American consumer has been an unwitting victim of the overall decline in healthfulness and quality of beef and pork in the name of efficiency.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2008 5:27 PM

I find the situation with these packers butchering and processing "down" cattle for human consumption within the borders of the United States a scandal of immense proportion. As an Illinois grain farmer who used to raise livestock, I can state quite frankly, that no farm family would consume meat from "downer" cattle nor hogs. There are many forms of illness that could cause the poor creatures to be non-amulatory, and some of these conditions could manifest themselves in the meat. I have been out of the livestock production business for 15 years, but raised cattle and hogs for nearly 35 years. The reason I left the industry was because the factory farms made it uneconomical for smaller producers to continue to produce. With the advent of more and more factory farms, it became apparent to me that the quality and healthfulness of some of the meat was declining to the point that my family refrains from eating any beef and pork except the very top choice cuts from the very best suppliers. Our diet consists mostly of chicken and turkey prepared with beef and pork served on rare occasions. The livestock industry is controlled at present time by huge conglomerate mega producers who are frequently vertically integrated in the market place. The American consumer has been an unwitting victim of the overall decline in healthfulness and quality of beef and pork in the name of efficiency.

Posted by: James | February 19, 2008 5:28 PM

I love my steak. Mummmmm. I don't really care when it stops walking, as long as it can't moo when it gets to my plate. Yummy Yumsauce...! Man, this article makes me want to go beat a cow to death and then eat it raw... I hear that makes them taste like vegans.

Posted by: Yummy Steaks | February 19, 2008 5:33 PM

anyone who wants the inhumane treatment of animals on their hands and in their bodies deserves the negativity that will beseech them....some of the posters here sound so non-peaceful; deplorable, actually.....enjoy your guns and steak.

Posted by: susan katz | February 19, 2008 5:34 PM

I believe "Where's the Beef" needs to changed to "Where are the Cattle Sourced Food Products?"

Posted by: PaulG | February 19, 2008 5:35 PM

It is important to separate:

(1) The (somewhat) disturbing images of seeing a slaughterhouse in operation

from:

(2) The improper killing of potentially sick (non-ambulatory, whatever...) animals, causing potentially tainted meat to be distributed to the general public.

While I do believe that it is important to improve the treatment of animals in these slaughterhouses (there are more humane and less humane ways to turn animals into food), we should be careful that we are not confusing the two issues:

Are we upset because this company tried to make more profit by selling sick/potentially diseased cows (to the detriment of every meat-eaters health), or are we upset that a lot of cows are getting killed?

Posted by: Ari | February 19, 2008 5:35 PM

I think that Americans care more about the welfare of an animal than they are other humans. remember that shirt from the Philopines was mad by a 7 year old under dangrous conditions being paid pennies a day.

LIFE FEEDS ON LIFE FEEDS ON LIFE

Posted by: Nester | February 19, 2008 5:36 PM

posters like Yummy Steaks' comments should be moderated and pulled -- let's not drag the conversation to the lowbrow mentality of that response.

Posted by: peaceonearth | February 19, 2008 5:37 PM

"I guess the distinction matters if you're trying to reassure consumers that there's not much chance they will get sick from eating this meat."

The article doesn't address in detail how much people must demand to know the origin of their food and decide if that's where they want their money to go. There should be a sign on all products consumed that required an animal to be slaughtered or caged to obtain its food. Did the animal roam freely? Was the animal deemed "healthy" and "well-treated"? The USDA is nowhere near these standards on packaging.

I gave up meat in 1990 in protest of fast food corporations' impact on rainforests. I have educated myself on the mistreatment and low-standards of animals and the production so this is why this will have little impact on me. I just hope more people will read the book Fast Food Nation.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2008 5:40 PM

Just stop eating cows. I stopped 20 years ago and never looked back. I don't have to worry about contamination, I know I am not contributing to the suffering of a sentient being, and I'm healthy. I realize most people eat the way they do because of how they were brought up/tradition, but that's not a good reason to keep it up. Try it - vegetarians taste better!

Posted by: Susan | February 19, 2008 5:40 PM

If God created animals and humans out of meat, He(or She) is also responsible for the ignorance and stupidity of a lot of posters. I believe the former Illinois grain farmer hit the nail on the head. Cheers.

Posted by: Tom | February 19, 2008 5:44 PM

This shouldn't be a case whether or not to be a vegetarian or a carnivore as some have quite pointedly stated so far. It should rather be that the idiots at the meat plant should have been more diligent with their processes, if a cow appears sick or whatever other status, they should all be put in quarantine and checked again. If they are deemed unfit for consumption, then humanely euthanize the animal. The loss would be part of doing business. What we should talk about is whether or not humane ethics were involved. In this case, they were clearly ignored, thus the backlash and prosecution they are experiencing. This isn't about vegetarianism/veganism VS a person that consumes meat.

Posted by: The Hammer | February 19, 2008 5:45 PM

Doc Concerned 4 U has inspired me to respond. Actually, the level of understanding of the situation by the author is quite sufficient.

Animals that are "down" are in all cases, experiencing some form of systemic distress. (we're not talking about cows that are 'just stubborn' here...NONE of the animals in question are "just stubborn".).

Either they've got a serious illness, or a traumatic or chronic injury, or have an overdose of drugs in their system or exposure to something toxic. In ANY of these cases, likelihood that there is going to be something "wrong" with the meat is pretty close to 100%.

Please bear in mind that the animals we're talking about don't lead "sunshine" lives to begin with...they're in conditions where the only thing that prevents large numbers of 'downers' is the wholesale application of antibiotics and steroids.

These animals are on the edge...when they go down, they go down HARD.

Another factor to consider...the USDA isn't in the business of ensuring that the beef we are supplied with is "good"...they're in the business of ensuring it isn't DANGEROUS. Beef that comes to market under the kinds of conditions being discussed here may not be DANGEROUS...but it is CERTAINLY far from GOOD.

lexicon

Posted by: lexicon | February 19, 2008 5:48 PM

I have seen dairy cows with their sacks rotting off go through auction houses for years .(Masititis).It has to be in the blood stream. These cows were were always purchased by a major canned beef stew company.I have never ate anything that I suspected was made from these DAIRY cows. They should be buried.You don;t have to worry about Stock cows They are healthy.Eat steak It comes from these healthy steers and heifers.

Posted by: farm boy | February 19, 2008 5:49 PM

They were interview a Humane Society official and he said that the cow that couldn't stand were exhibiting all the symptoms of downer cows. These downer cows are not allowed to be slaughter because it has be suspected that these are the early symptoms of mad cow disease. The slaughter company was in direct violation of this rule.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2008 5:58 PM

Treating helpless animals like this is just plain cruel. What kind of person would treat a living, breathing, feeling animal like this? Have they no conscience? These cows feel pain and are fearful as well. Meat eaters should honor the animal that gave up its life under extremely merciless, heartless and inhumane conditions.

Posted by: daisydog | February 19, 2008 5:58 PM

A great many people seem to have no idea of what the Nazis actually did to those they considered inferior.

It is an insult to those who died, and the survivors to compare anything like this to those acts which go way beyond the disgusting way that these cattle were and likely continue to be treated.

Posted by: Disgusted | February 19, 2008 5:59 PM

In Iraq humans do things a lot worse to each other. Maybe the USDA can go to Iraq and inspect it.

Posted by: Anon Amus | February 19, 2008 5:59 PM

My husband look likes cows. That why i don't eat beef for 20 years. And now i don't eat pork too because it look likes my pet.(dog)

Posted by: pittburg esl class | February 19, 2008 6:02 PM

Stop eating meat and rise to the status of human being! However if u r an animal, never listen to anyone..

Posted by: Animal | February 19, 2008 6:04 PM

torture done is torture welcome

Posted by: Jesus M. Christ | February 19, 2008 6:07 PM

"The worst of the Nazi war crimes pale in comparison to this"
I encourage you to read a bit about Dr. Josef Mengele. They called him the Angel of Death for the unspeakable "experiments" he preformed on Jews and others in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
I know that the Nazi comparison is quite popular to use whenever we encounter something horrific, but Alan please think before you type. Animal cruelty, though a terrible crime, is in NO WAY even remotely close to what the Nazi's perpetrated. To suggest as much is ignorant and offensive.
As for the treatment of these cows, follow the money. The only way to prevent things like this is to make the monetary penalty for allowing these practices, more than the profit they make by continuing.

Posted by: Stacy P | February 19, 2008 6:11 PM

I am not sure why the meat eaters are worried about the health of the cow. In fact all meat meant to be partially sick. Can you think of a human body without some disease?. Animals are not lazy and they don't fall down for any reason other than being sick. I am a vegetarian but if I were a non-vegeteraian, it could not have made any difference to eat any meat. Luckily I have a better thinking process than these meat eaters..

H

Posted by: Harry | February 19, 2008 6:14 PM

What astonishes me is not that they mistreat the cows. Some people don't care about eating sick cows, so whatever. It was not even the fact that a lot of the meat went to schools, to be fed to kids -- a lot of the kids who are on subsidized lunches end up eating that stuff. But I am in awe at the gall of the meat industry. They were obviously caught doing something wrong, but still they have a big mouth, and go on offensive. Some loser pen manager (what's that) got charged with something. Pathetic. I think this attitude, where you never accept any real blame, is more upsetting than even the dragging of the cows.

Posted by: liana | February 19, 2008 6:35 PM

Thank God, as "consumers", we don't have to concern ourselves with such trivial things as morality, toxicity or stupidity when stuffing out big mouths.

Ignorance is bliss! (just gimme a pill)

Posted by: amiaconsumer | February 19, 2008 6:43 PM

Please consult Michael Pollard's book entitlled "The Omnivore's Dilemma" which documents the state of the US food industy in a very interesting, readable style. The case in the news is hardly a new situation. Become more informed so that you will make food choices that benefit your health and the industries which provide the best products in turn.
Remember: you are what you eat.

Posted by: Ed L. | February 19, 2008 6:46 PM

farm boy said: You don;t have to worry about Stock cows They are healthy.Eat steak It comes from these healthy steers and heifers.

I don't think any animal raised in conditions that it has to be pumped full of antibiotics and steroids to stay alive long enough to gain enough weight to be profitably slaughtered can be considered "healthy." Agribusiness still feeds animal "byproducts" and processed corn products to cows, which have evolved to be grass-eating herbivores.

If you're lucky enough to be able to find meat from grass-fed cattle raised on a small scale, preferably local, without being pumped full of steroids and antibiotics, enjoy it in good health.

(And no, most of the meat at Whole Foods does not fit that bill. And if you're worried about the treatment of the animals you're eating, organically raised cattle from large-scale operations actually have it worse, because they don't get the antibiotics to protect them from all the problems cattle are prone to when they spend weeks standing in their own waste, eating a corn-and-carnivorous diet that their digestive system is not adapted to handle.)

Posted by: healthy meat in moderation | February 19, 2008 6:51 PM

Some of the dumbest comments I have ever read come from the meat-eaters. Should we try to save them from heart disease and cancer or just sleep well tonight knowing we'll outlive them?

Posted by: K | February 19, 2008 7:12 PM

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
A Steak a day will make you look like a cow each day.

Posted by: rabgemini | February 19, 2008 7:15 PM

"The worst of the Nazi war crimes pale in comparison to this"

As a teacher and student of the Holocaust, I believe this comment was made out of total ignorance and agree with the poster who wrote that you should think before typing a nonchalant statement about the murder of 11 million human beings.

Being a friend of animals, an animal rights activist, and a vegan, I cannot comprehend how anybody who has seen the footage of the downed cow can continue to eat beef.

Posted by: Stacy G | February 19, 2008 7:20 PM

Any factory farm animal is treated with disrespect and inhumane. Do you think because you have the cow standing in a big pen of mud and waste, pumped up with feed with growth hormones for beef makes it any healthier than the dairy cow standing in a pen of mud and waste is really any different. Chickens are packed in cages, pigs packed in basically a box. None of these animals get real, green grass. They get moldy anything that can be found and with less hay and grains being grown for animal feed, how much worse do you think they are going to be treated. I have seen cows, pigs, sheep just dumped in piles at these farms/dairies, even on the sides of roads for who knows to pick up.
And, please keep in mind that your dog might have come from a puppy mill that treats the dogs just as bad or worse. all of these animals are abused. Drive past a dairy and you are hard pressed to find water for them.
Need I say more?? Oh, yeah nothing will change.

Posted by: cuda | February 19, 2008 7:23 PM

Factory farming is cruel by it's very nature. The Meat "industry" is just that, an industry- they care most about profit, animals are just "production units". If the unnecessary suffering of animals does not bother you, then you need to take a long hard look in the mirror. The sickness of the factory farm mentality negatively effects us all. Is it really that hard to put humanity above profit?

Posted by: YourSoul | February 19, 2008 7:28 PM

I wonder if the cause of immobility in these animals is the physical torture they endured at the hands of these men, not disease....People.... simmer down the hysterics about * sick or diseased* cows being slaughtered and sold for consumption...and focus on facts as captured on video. I would guess that what was caught on camera was a small segment of the length of time these cows were tortured...

Posted by: Rose | February 19, 2008 7:28 PM

There will come a time when even the most insensitive self-centered imbeciles such as the ones that have expressed themselves in this talk back will realize that eating meat is a dastardly deed that needs to be discontinued. Human progress takes time. Hopefully such videos can speed up the process of human evolution towards vegetarianism. And since cattle raising contributes to global warming, deforestation, water pollution etc. this is a further incentive to go green and quit eating meat.

Posted by: Steve | February 19, 2008 7:30 PM

I was raised on a farm many years ago.I have always owned a farm and for 20 years I raised registered angus cattle along with horses,sheep,and chickens.As a lifelong observer of animal behavior I can no longer eat meat.These creatures are all capable of a level of social behavior that exhibits unconditional love, prolonged memory of their offspring and an unquestioning submission to the conditions we put them into.I hope the video will give everyone a moments pause to reflect on the meaning of life and how we treat not only animals but also each other.

Posted by: conscience | February 19, 2008 7:32 PM

Unless you cut down on consumption to allow yourself to pay for quality meat and meat production, you are bound to get the occasional bout of "stomach flu." You are, after all eating off a dead carcass.

Luckily, only a relatively few cases of food poisoning are fatal each year. Check out the working conditions for packers and dairy workers if you want to be further appalled. Meat is a dirty business and most dairy cows have an even worse life and eventual death. At least the cow raised for beef can walk to slaughter on her own four feet.

I like meat, I just choose to buy from real family farms that take their livestock to slaughter and treat them well until their time comes. The same is true for dairy, you don't have to drink so much milk that it forces you to buy from bargain priced factory producers. Your money, your choice.

Posted by: Mark SFCA | February 19, 2008 7:34 PM

If the video did make your stomuch twirl..
Here are a list of things you can do and wake up with a smile tomorrow.

1. Go Vegan & Promote Vegetarianism..
2. Acctively contribute to Peta, Humane society etc..

Make this incident an eye-opener for a bigger and a better tomorrow!

Posted by: rabgemini | February 19, 2008 7:34 PM

yes...we as whole don't really give a flying rats as about how our meats are TREATED IN A HUMANE FASHION THEY ARE SLAUGHTER FOR FOR CONSUMPTION.I LIKE MEAT...SO DO YOU. Pay more attention to the slaughter and inhumane treatment of PEOPLE around the globe. For god's sake get a grip

Posted by: dmoore | February 19, 2008 7:34 PM

mmmm, hot dogs.

Posted by: croft | February 19, 2008 7:36 PM

Americans all demand cheap meat, and this is how it comes about. These cows are not healthy, they are pumped full of antibiotics after being fed a diet that they are not able to digest appropriately, in order to fatten them up as quickly as possible and send them off to slaughter (also as quickly and as many as possible) in order to deliver us cheap meat. Grass-fed cattle, eating the food they have evolved to eat, do not fatten up as quickly or have the "correct marbling" we all have come to expect, nor are they consequently as cheap as the food-lot cows. This has been going on for years and years, why is it suddenly such a surprise? I have to say that most Americans will quickly forget this as they dine on their next (cheap) meat meal.

Posted by: M | February 19, 2008 7:36 PM

I think if more people knew what Mad Cow Disease actually translated to in humans, they might be a little more upset.

How does having your brain turn into a sponge over the course of a year or two sound to you?

Posted by: Phil | February 19, 2008 7:42 PM

Why do we have to kill these poor helpless animals in order to eat them? What have they done that deserves the death penalty? Why do we kill plants to eat them? Wouldn't it be better if we stopped killing things just so that we can eat them?

I say eat only things that never lived; no to animals! No to plants! Just say no!

Posted by: Sol Vason | February 19, 2008 7:43 PM

"I become more and more likely to never eat red meat again." Best thing said so far.

Posted by: George | February 19, 2008 7:45 PM

To dmoore(on)--
*You* need to get a grip. There is NO excuse to treat animals which are LIVING THINGS that feel pain in this disrespectful and in humane manner. When the animals are treated well it's better for them and in turn for YOU, the meat eater. You are ignorant.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
Mahatma Gandhi.

Posted by: Lisa | February 19, 2008 7:47 PM

The Story is ridiculoius. When USDA tries to clarify whether its broken leg/sick it makes sense. A broken leg doesn render the meat non consumable whereas a any disease(sickness) will make the meat non consumable. I dont understand why so many fingers pointed at this.

Posted by: Dexter | February 19, 2008 7:48 PM

If we didn't eat cows, there wouldn't be cows. They (the cows) should thank us meat eaters that some of them are being saved.

Posted by: Jesse | February 19, 2008 7:51 PM

Does anyone even realize that the HSUS is Peta. They were not the least bit worried about the food safety. They just thought it was terrible to shock a cow. That is why they sat on this for months. Some animals freeze and lie down when they are frightened and need to be prodded. The shocks that they are using are not really very strong. My uncle had hot wire fencing that was four times hotter than those prods. Come milking time the cows would lean on the hot wire hoping to get closer to the barn; until they had burned scars into their necks. If they were in pain they would have backed off. They chose to lean on the hot wire. Cows have a thick hide and they barely feel those shocks.

Posted by: Deborah | February 19, 2008 7:52 PM

Also, these downer cows are laying in manure all the time to the point where it gets into their hide. So when you slaughter these cows, the manure is mixed in with the beef (yummy) and you have a good chance of E coli contamination.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2008 7:58 PM

In response to Stacy P, I did read about Josef Mengele and the experiments he tried seem to be quite similar to the ones performed by researchers that I know of in university labs even today. The only difference being that they are performed on animals and not humans. I personally know a girl who killed a number of animals in the process of learning her experiments. I see no difference between inhumane treatment of animals and humans...maybe the holocaust is a fair comparison?

Posted by: mensan | February 19, 2008 7:59 PM

You are what you eat---prime dead meat

Posted by: vegetarian | February 19, 2008 8:01 PM

Any of you guys ever try to get a downer cow off a truck?? I mean - just what do you do....

Believe me - a lot worse than downer cows get processed.

Now if you would like some organic, grass fed cows - butchered without stress - here on the farm - just let me know BUT its going to cost you - about twice what you pay already.

Posted by: Navaho1 | February 19, 2008 8:03 PM

How does the word INHUMANE apply to animals. If we are to have meat to eat animals have to be killed. Using a fork lift to lift an animal is logical if you don't believe it try to lift a cow. How many of the posters are going to give up meat in all forms?

Posted by: buttons | February 19, 2008 8:05 PM

I been eatin' the tacos down at the grade school, and I just have developed one helluva case of the 'squirts', but I am certain that it ain't nuthin' ta be concerned about.

Cuz the experts over at the USDA say it is A-1 O.K.!

Posted by: aperfectbob | February 19, 2008 8:12 PM

There are lots of conditions, (other than mad cow disease) that can develope from eating beef or other meats that are not healthy, however these conditions are not referred to by the meat and dairy industry. (We certainly don't want to scare our customers do we?)
Most of these conditions are caused by parasites that can live in the tissue of animals such as pigs cows chickens etc.
A good friend of mine liked to eat rare beef. A worm larvae migrated through his blood and found a home in the retina of his left eye. He is now blind in that eye. Needless to say he no longer eats rare beef. His doctor told him he was lucky. If it had gone to his brain, or some other vital organ he could be dead. Something to think about while you're munching on that nice tasty burger.

Posted by: iagi | February 19, 2008 8:17 PM

And USDA actually gave Westland Meat a National School Lunch program Top Quality Performer of the year award in 2005.

"Westland Meat Top Quality Performer
in National School Lunch Program


The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has developed one of the most effective
preferred vendor and supply chain quality management systems in the food industry for
the purchase of ground beef for the National School Lunch Program. The AMS has
incorporated best practices from other industries and merged in the need to guarantee food safety to produce a world class system.

[...]

One of the top performers in the program has been Westland Meat Company in Chino,
California. Westland was awarded the Supplier of the Year for 2004-2005 for the National School Lunch Program.

Steve and Stan Mendell established Westland
Meat Company in 1990, and have developed a
state of the art processing plant located in Chino.

The facility covers all functions including
harvesting, de-boning, and grinding, and
produces high quality boneless beef, boxed beef, and ground meat products. They have
used state of the art design, but have kept the plant simple and small (200 employees)
with a flat management structure and a focus on world class operation.

[...]

Developing the AMS product has taken a lot of time and effort, but has enabled
Westland to ratchet to a higher level of performance. The in-house laboratory is AOAC certified and ensures that all products are produced in a consistently safe and sanitized environment. They have implemented Statistical Process Control (SPC) using NWA Quality Analyst. All the staff have basic quality training, and for each work cell, two additional people receive extra quality control
training.

[...]

This systematic approach to developing staff skills and improving plant processes is applied to everything they do. Stan Mendell believes in hands-on plant management and sees his major job as training and coaching the staff.

It is important to show employees how well they do since the people make the success.
In addition to developing a quality organization, they work closely with the USDA staff.

As Stan says, "All the government agents in the school lunch program have been willing
to help. They want us to be a capable vendor and focus on our success."

According to Stan, "Developing our quality systems to meet the USDA requirements
and having a demonstrated record of quality performance has also helped us become
preferred vendors with our commercial accounts where we supply ground beef to
several of the better fast food restaurants. By making employees aware of our customers and their needs, we have increased our success.""

Check it out the full press release of the USDA's "best seller of downer cows to school children" award here:

http://www.nwasoft.com/appnotes/westland.pdf.

Posted by: Maxine | February 19, 2008 8:18 PM

This is exactly the reason I only eat free range stones. I'm with Sol Vason. Let's not kill things for consumption. I'd rather munch on some rocks. My metabolism speeds up significantly when trying to digest petrified wood, too.

Posted by: Rosetta Stone | February 19, 2008 8:18 PM

Go watch any predator take down it's prey and you will witness the underlying instinct that still presides in all creatures, including man. Just because we have been removed from the "kill" for so long, does not necessitate the absence of euphoria when you have successfully provided food to prolong you life.
Some people have had it so easy for so long that they don't have a clue about the basic psychology of survival.
Things that have no importance become subjects of scrutiny.
How much will this recall affect the lives of untold numbers of people in lost wages?
Can you make anything totally safe?
I think not.

Posted by: brian | February 19, 2008 8:24 PM

"Are we upset because this company tried to make more profit by selling sick/potentially diseased cows (to the detriment of every meat-eaters health), or are we upset that a lot of cows are getting killed?"

Ari: We are upset by not how many cows are getting but HOW THEY ARE BEING KILLED.

I agree with you that ofcourse there are more humane ways of killing an animal to ease their part of pain and suffering.
IF WE WOULD LIKE TO TRY, OFCOURSE THERE IS.
But the problem is that due to the rapid demand and supply, the humans working over there, after sometime get so much used to it, that they become inane to the animal's suffering.

I have watched videos like these in the past and I am afraid to watch this video knowing that this is the truth.

After watching those videos,to this day, I curse myself for my inability to do anything for these helpless creatures who have trusted us.

Being non-vegetarian myself, I know that becoming vegetarian is not the immediate and logical answer. The answer lies in finding ways and means to lessen their suffering.
Maybe we should make them unconcious and then kill or maybe something else.

Posted by: Jeet | February 19, 2008 8:30 PM

i was a cook in a skool system for a number of years . i saw them pull the meatburgs out of canada they fed students in usa. i was glad i was a vegatarian then and now. lets go crazy

Posted by: yama 108 | February 19, 2008 8:41 PM

Broken legs? On our farm, it took a lot of energy to break a cows leg. My grandfather rolled his truck and trailer full of cows, one year. He was roughed up, but an old cow broke her leg above the hock. She was found standing on 3 legs at the top of the hill, waiting by the trailer. Later she hopped thru the sale barn to the vet's booth... her leg was at a 10 degree angle, not touching the ground and she was walking fine. I've seen many animals on the farm, hurt by other animals in pathetic ways, but no injuries have put an animal on the ground but sickness. All our cows that ever got down were in great jeapordy and we worked hard to get them upright, dry warm and well.

If you have any common sense and have watched these videos in question, it is obvious these cows are sick and have very low energy levels... otherwise they would be fighting mad and scrambling to their feet, short of a broken back.

I'm sorry to be so graphic, but I straddle the fence between the urban reader and rural, having grown up in the country on a farm with cows and horses, and since taken a PhD in Public Health from the University of Alabama. Therefore I felt it important to help bridge the gap I'm seeing here between science and society... most folks don't have a chance to see how their food is raised and most don't spend a portion of their lives researching risks to public health. When one person has both these opportunities in one life, It is important to speak up. Thanks for your patience with my observations.

Posted by: Mike Holland, Saxapahaw, NC | February 19, 2008 8:42 PM

disgusting video...go vegan, go vegan.

Posted by: cici | February 19, 2008 8:45 PM

these big corporate farms, have been selling sick meat to the public for years..i processed film and photos taken by the API, animal protection instute, young veal calves, with their legs spraweled on the ground because they were to weak to stand. pumped full of antibotics, kept in the dark. folks, this is sick meat, and the USDA isn't concerned about it. i would never trust a USDA STAMP OF APPROVAL..NEVER.even if i was a meat eater. just look around you at the state of health of people today.. especially the young adults. LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE. buy reliable food from reputable sources.and go ORGANIC..

Posted by: cici | February 19, 2008 8:56 PM

Like PETA a.k.a. ELF, "turn me into a coat when I die", kills more animals than the Humane Society, is even a credible organization.

AND

Where would you Organic Veggie People be without your organic fertilizer a.k.a manure which happens to come from you guessed it COWS.

So really,

Food safety is the ONLY issue here. Humane treatment is only important as far as it contributes to the latter.

The rest is just some imagined morality argument that the self-righteous like the yak about.

Posted by: ilikemeattoo | February 19, 2008 8:59 PM

Just in case the link to the USDA 'Best Downer Cow Seller of the Year to American School Children Award 2005' to Westland Meat Co. press release link is no longer functional, here is the Google cache link to it:

http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:o4HK1Rv0YnsJ:www.nwasoft.com/appnotes/westland.pdf+WESTLAND+MEAT+CO&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=6&gl=us&client=firefox-a

Posted by: Maxine | February 19, 2008 9:00 PM

Conscience: EXCELLANT NOTE.

"These creatures are all capable of a level of social behavior that exhibits unconditional love, prolonged memory of their offspring and an unquestioning submission to the conditions we put them into.I hope the video will give everyone a moments pause to reflect on the meaning of life and how we treat not only animals but also each other."

May others be blessed with sensitiveness and wisdom as yours.

This is being real human!

Posted by: Jeet | February 19, 2008 9:55 PM

You cannot treat creatures inhumanely without having God's will strike great vengeance upon you. Mad cow disease was caused by the injustice of feeding "cow meal" to other cows. You can't feed mothers to their children. Unless you eat your kids then you're a hypocrite. Cause now you eat things that eat their kids which makes you nuts.

Most people have ethics ingrained in them. The point of ethics is to prevent disgusting and inhumane things NOT ONLY because it is WRONG but because it brings forth disgusting vengeance that is the brain eating disease called MAD COW.

When you disrespect the system of honoring animals that you eat...yes do you ever say grace anymore...you will get yours.

What do I care that 10 years from now some hot head is going to have a heart attack from eating red meat that was diseased with cysts and polyps? Are you telling me, a Vegetarian, that I should care about some Meat eater that loves watching some video like this. When you have developed some brain disease or colon polyp and need us Vegetarians who still have unsponged brains to sit down and contemplate a cure for your disease. HAHAHA! God's justice rarely comes in such a discriminating package. It's only those that eat it and like to beat it that shall be beat in the end.

For the people who eat meat daily and supposedly only "care" about human life. You are the problem. Your actions are creating a starving world with starving children rather than those of us who are AWARE of how the slaughterhouse system can never be humane.

Those children that are starving are starving because you are wasting land on feeding animals instead of growing bountiful grains that could feed thousands of people. It takes more water to feed cows than grow grains. And farm feces is a major contributor to water pollution and greenhouse gases. Why do the meat eaters not now any of the science...maybe that MAD COW is already eating away at their brains.

Posted by: DoUntoOthers | February 20, 2008 3:20 AM

1. How does a cow that stands still for most of the day break its legs if treated humanely?

2. Have you noticed that nearly all of the defenses of meat-eating here have been along the lines of eighth-grade boy humor? Sorry, but if we're going to discuss an actual issue, you're going to have to think deeper than "Mmm, steak."

Posted by: Me | February 20, 2008 7:22 AM

I see no difference between inhumane treatment of animals and humans...maybe the holocaust is a fair comparison?

Posted by: mensan | February 19, 2008 07:59 PM

So you see no difference - Sorry the murder of people just to get to the final solution (no Jews) is not equal to trying to maintain a food supply - however inhumanely. So if they are equal you would have the same punishment for the butcher who was cruel to the animal when he slaughtered him for food as you would for the person who came into your house and slaughtered your child for the fun of it.

Cruelty to animals is wrong but murder is worse.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 9:33 AM

lexicon-

If you really believe the author demonstrates a sufficient level of understanding of the topic at hand, then why do you need to go on and explain it? You have perfectly demonstrated (unintentionally of course) complete support for my notion. The sensationalism of the media as a guiding factor in matters of public health is poisonous to our society and this article is no exception. One of the major reasons (and most important IMHO) that such entities as the USDA, FDA and others are malfunctioning is simply because of a lack of general understanding of the issues by the people these organizations serve. People get outraged but the fact is they have no real idea why except for emotional hype and hence they have no idea how to institute any change or even how to view any change that is instituted. A little understanding can go a long way to resolve this but media hype is the antithesis of such understanding.

Posted by: Doc Concerned 4 U | February 20, 2008 2:19 PM

How does the most intelligent of earthly lifeforms become so ignorant? We humans are the sickest of them all. I too hope those who kill and eat these animals may someday, somehow, become one of them. Maybe then they will understand.

Posted by: GOveganNOW | February 20, 2008 10:37 PM

Why do meat-eater use 8th grade boy humor?
Because veggies can't seem to formulate an argument beyond that of a 12 year old. i.e. you offer no facts, just pseudo-religious rantings. And, it's not a defense it's ridicule..of you. And one more thing "disgusting video...go vegan, go vegan." is along what lines exactly?

Can you explain to me again, why meat-eaters are ignorant?

You are right, I am ignorant in one area, can you send me some stats on Mad Cow in humans? Is it near the 43,000 killed in the U.S. in car accidents. Will it be near the 500k that will die from cancer this year or will it be near 1.5mill that will contract cancer this year? Or maybe it will be closer to the 1000 or so that will die, world wide, in a plane crash.

Posted by: ilikemeattoo | February 21, 2008 2:39 AM

Don't you think your article is a little inflamatory? I mean, how many people have gotten sick from this re-called beef? Can you answer me that? If this beef was so unsafe, why was this same organization awarded Government's "Supplier of the Year award for the National School Lunch Program" (yes...this plant actually won that award).

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/01/30/ST2008013001224.html

If you will look at the situation closely, you will see that there was no danger - those cows (USED-UP DAIRY COWS) had been inspected just hours before. The Dairy industry turns cows into living milk machines via intense spacial confinement and artificial insemination throughout these cows short 4-5 year life. The artificial insemination keeps dairy cows constantly lactating. The confinement insures that most all a cows energy is focused on Milk Production. Throughout their lives, these cows suffer from mastisis and foot ulcers - and are typically milked until they can no longer stand. Thus, the so-called "Downer Cows" you hear about (and see in the video) are just used-up milk cows - they are not diseased - or unsafe - like some would have you believe. Like I said...they were inspected before they left the dairy. So, in the few short hours between when they left the dairy to when they slaughtered, it would be unreasonable to assume that they suddenly contracted "Mad Cow Disease".

Again...where are all the sick children? I mean, they've been slurping that "Bovine Wonder Tonic" (i.e., Milk) and scarfing down those "Beef Tacos" made from these cows for years - and why didn't they get sick if this was such dangerous meat?

Could it be because the meat wasn't dangerous - and that most Americans are too ASHAMED to admit the meat they eat and the milk they drink comes with some suffering attached to it?

I mean, raising and slaughtering cattle is a rough, bloody business...and if ya' can't handle that fact, then I suggest you become a vegitarian. For example, most people think that making a steer mearly means the removal of it's gonads - but that's just the start. Afterwards, you've got to grab the Vas Deferens and pull like a maniac until it snaps off in the steers body. It's rough. It's loud. It's painful. It's bloody. I do not enjoy it. But...that's how meat is made! (and all this occurs when the cows are just babies). Did I even mention the pain and blood-shed associated with branding and horn-cutting?

But...never mind. We'll have the government "Pass a Law" and convince ourselves how human we are - and we'll no longer feel guilty about feeding the Kiddies Milk and Meat and Chees - and all those wonderful Cattle Products. Meanwhile, it will be back to busniss as usual: cows will be milked to death and then run to the slaughtering houses where they will be chained by the back legs, hung upside down, and have thier throats slit. And while "Elsie the Cow" is braying and choking to death on her own blood, she will have appreciated the opportunity to give us folks such wonderful, wholesome dairy products.

The End.

Posted by: jlwade3 | February 21, 2008 12:28 PM

You have to be crazy to eat the garbage that comes out of supermarkets. There are more chemicals, hormones, antibiotics and artifical god knows what on the average supermarket shelf than you can shake a stick at. Americans will put any trash in their mouth. You are what you eat - garbage and trash.

Posted by: EatOrganic | February 21, 2008 1:30 PM

I will NEVER eat beef from a typical supermarket ever again... I've recently gone 100% "natural," and buy all my beef from local (NC) beef producers who raise their cattle entirely on pasture, treat their animals humanely, and keep the processed meat clean.

The USDA doesn't have the manpower (or the dedication) to babysit the factory meat producers, and the producers don't care about the quality of their product, just the quantity produced.

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