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2 Fired After Graphic Video Shows Abuse of School Lunch Meat Sick Cow

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, January 31, 2008 12:02 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Toxic Substances, Defective Products

Downed cow enters meat supply for the school lunch program in 36 states.


The Humane Society of the U.S. has released a video showing what happens to some cows before slaughter and is raising questions about the safety of our food supply.

The cow is “downed” –an animal that is too weak or sick to even make it into the slaughter house. In the video, Hallmark Meat Packing Co. workers shock the animal with an electric prod to get it to stand up long enough to be slaughtered.

The undercover video shot last year, shows workers jabbing the animal near its eyes and ramming cows with a forklift to get them on their feet.

The meat from Hallmark in Chino, California is sold to Westland Meat with distributes the meat to the National School Lunch Program.

"This must serve as a five-alarm call to action for Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture," said Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society president. "Our government simply must act quickly both to guarantee the most basic level of humane treatment for farm animals and to protect America's most vulnerable people -- our children, needy families and the elderly -- from the potentially dangerous food."

Downed cows are likely sick and could more easily carry diseases harmful to humans and are technically not allowed to be entered into the food supply,  according to USDA regulations.

Investigators will be looking into violations of state and federal laws at this slaughterhouse, though the Agriculture Secretary Ed Schaefer says there is no evidence that the nation’s beef supply is at risk.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, sent letters Wednesday to the agriculture secretary and the head of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) asking for an immediate investigation into the safety of ground beef being used in the National School Lunch Program.

"The treatment of animals in this video is appalling, but more than that, it raises significant concerns about the safety of the food being served to our nation's children," Durbin said. "The apparent slaughter of sick and weak animals not only appears to violate USDA regulations, but could be a danger to our nation's food supply."

Westland says it has fired the two employees in the video. But does not say whether the meat from the downed cow in the video entered the food supply.

Westland, which delivers beef products to schools in 36 states, was named “supplier of the year” in 2004 and 2005 by the Agriculture Department.   #

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