The U.S. Department of Agriculture has indefinitely shut down operations at a California slaughterhouse after it received a video from an animal welfare group exposing what looks like horrific animal cruelty, reports CNN.The plant is owned and run by Central Valley Meat, one of the beef suppliers for big regional fast food chain In-N-Out Burger.
It had accounted for about 20 per cent of all beef used by the burger chain in a given week, according to Gawker.
“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,” Al Almanza, administrator of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, told CNN.
Central Valley Meat hired a PR firm to help handle the situation. It issued this statement about the video and the accusations:
Central Valley Meat takes these issues very seriously and is now developing a plan of action to present to (the Food Safety Inspection Service) to remedy any potential violations of USDA guidelines. Based on our own investigation and 30 years of producing safe, high-quality US beef, we are confident these concerns pose no food safety issues.
Meanwhile, In-N-Out has moved to “sever” all ties with the slaughterhouse.
“In-N-Out Burger would never condone the inhumane treatment of animals and all of our suppliers must agree to abide by our strict standards for the humane treatment of cattle,” In-N-Out COO Mark Taylor told the AP.
Compassion Over Killing is the activist group that obtained the footage. It did undercover investigations earlier this year.
This is its description of what was found at the slaughterhouse, as depicted in the video:
- Downed cows, unable to walk to the kill floor, shot in the head two, three, even four times, and workers often walking away while the animal continues to struggle and kick.
- Some downed cows who were still alive after being shot in the head were then suffocated by workers who stood on their mouths and nostrils preventing the cows from breathing.
- Cows being tortured — repeatedly hit, jabbed, electrically shocked, and sprayed with hot water — in a narrow chute leading to the kill floor. One cow was electrically shocked over 40 times.
- Sick or injured cows repeatedly being shocked and workers pulling or lifting them by their tails in an attempt to force them to stand and walk.
- Improper stunning of animals prior to slaughter — many cows were thrashing, kicking, and clearly breathing after being shot in the head. Yet these animals are moved through the slaughter process onto a conveyor belt and then hoisted upside-down by one leg.
Here’s the video. Warning — it’s quite graphic:
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