Feds Find Slaughterhouse Problems
A federal audit of beef slaughterhouses has uncovered evidence that some plants continue to use inhumane practices in handling cattle. Yesterday on Capitol Hill, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer told the Senate farm appropriations committee that the USDA temporarily suspended operations at one plant after the audit found that it was insufficiently stunning animals before slaughtering them.
The audit was conducted in response to the recall earlier this year of 143 million pounds of meat from Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. in Chino, Calif. An undercover video [Warning: graphic contents] released in January by the Humane Society of the United States documented the abuse of injured and sick cattle at the plant.
Schafer said that auditors examined all 18 slaughter plants that supply beef to federal nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch Program. Although he did not identify specific plants, he said that auditors found excessive use of electric stunning prods, overcrowding of animals in pens and insufficient stunning.
The findings echo previous reports about conditions in the industry, including the "Modern Meat" investigative series by Post reporter Joby Warrick in 2001.Warrick's project, part of collaboration with NBC's Dateline, detailed the practice of insufficient stunning at the IBP Inc. plant in Washington state.
"Under a 23-year-old federal law, slaughtered cattle and hogs first must be "stunned" -- rendered insensible to pain -- with a blow to the head or an electric shock," Warrick wrote. "But at overtaxed plants, the law is sometimes broken, with cruel consequences for animals as well as workers. Enforcement records, interviews, videos and worker affidavits describe repeated violations of the Humane Slaughter Act at dozens of slaughterhouses, ranging from the smallest, custom butcheries to modern, automated establishments such as the sprawling IBP Inc. plant."
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Posted by: Hank | April 10, 2008 12:36 PM