Federal regulators suspended operations at a central California slaughterhouse on Monday following the release of graphic undercover video from an animal-rights group. The video, filmed by Compassion Over Killing, allegedly showed dairy cows being repeatedly shocked and shot before being slaughtered.
The Associated Press reports that USDA officials shut down the Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif., in response to the undercover video, filmed over a two-week period in June. With at least two USDA inspectors stationed at the site during normal operation, some have speculated whether these inspectors neglected their duties. Federal officials point that the investigation is still ongoing, but further action will be taken if necessary.
In a company statement, Central Valley Meat Co. reported that they “were extremely disturbed to be informed by the USDA that ... our plant could not operate based upon a videotape that was provided to the Department by a third party group that alleged inhumane treatment of animals on our property."
Animal-handling expert Temple Grandin said some of the major issues in the video can be attributed to the poor condition of the animals arriving at the plant.
“I urge the dairy industry to market their cows before they become weak and extremely debilitated,” Grandin said in an article on MeatPoultry.com. Read more.
Here is a statement from animal-care expert Dave Daley, associate dean for the College of Agriculture at California State University and an active member of the cattle community:
“The vast majority of cattlemen stand firm in adhering to the absolute best animal care and handling guidelines established by veterinarians and other experts. We do not condone any mishandling of livestock on the farm or ranch or in the packing facility. In fact, we firmly believe that those knowingly and willfully committing any abuse to animals should not be in the business – period. The actions depicted in these videos are disgraceful and not representative of the cattle community.
“U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors have a very serious responsibility and obligation to make certain that packing plants are vigorously following the guidelines in place that ensure animal care from pasture to plate. Cattlemen put their livestock above their own needs and truly develop a bond with the land and livestock. Cattlemen work hard every day to give animals the proper care and handling they deserve and expect proper treatment to continue after they leave America’s family farms and ranches.
“This is exactly why the farmer and rancher code of conduct within Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) has been in place since 1996 and condemns the mistreatment of animals. We believe any individual who witnesses inappropriate animal treatment is responsible for making every effort to stop it immediately. Anyone who mistreats animals must be reported immediately and should be punished in accordance with the law. We must work together to put a stop to any abuse.”