These stories are disturbing to anyone with even a minimal concern for the nation’s food animals.
And worst of all, they don’t need to keep recurring.
By now, it’s well known that a California beef plant that processes primarily cull dairy cows was closed last week by USDA after clandestine videos captured by an animal activist showed what the department termed “disturbing evidence of inhumane treatment of cattle,” according to a report on CNN.com
The videos, which were posted online by Compassion Over Killing operatives, showed cows at Hanford, Calif.-based Central Valley Meat Co. that appeared to be sick or lame being beaten, kicked and shocked in an attempt to get them to walk to slaughter, according to multiple news reports. The footage also showed animals repeatedly shot with a captive bolt stunner, while another cow is shown hanging from one hind leg while kicking and seemingly still alive.
The release of the undercover video and the subsequent shutdown of the plant prompted USDA, McDonald’s Corp. and In-N-Out Burger to suspend or cancel contracts with the company. According to an Associated Press story, USDA bought more than 209 million pounds of ground beef worth more than $50 million from the company last year.
Predictably, USDA officials then responded with exactly the wrong message.
“While some of the footage provided from this facility shows unacceptable treatment of cattle, it does not show anything that would compromise food safety,” according to a USDA statement sent to CNN.
That’s not what virtually anyone among either the public or policymakers cares about. Food safety isn’t the issue here. Nor are “jobs,” which was the other irrelevant hot button a trio of California congressmen cited, mentioning the state’s high unemployment rate, as a reason to re-open the plant.
Republican Reps. Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy and Jeff Denham wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, arguing that shutting down the Central Valley Meat plant does nothing to further the goal of responding to the alleged animal abuse.The representatives also asked Vilsack to intervene against “attacks that are occurring at the behest of radical groups.”
A USDA spokesman said that the company cannot reopen until it resolves its humane handling issues.
“The company must first submit a corrective action plan detailing how they intend to comply with humane handling regulations before USDA considers allowing them to operate,” saidUSDA spokesman Justin DeJong.