The USDA has closed the slaughterhouse at Central Valley Meat Corporation in Fresno, California after evidence surfaced showing inhumane and illegal treatment of animals on the killing floor. A video distributed by the animal advocacy group Compassion Over Killing depicted utterly horrific treatment of animals that — aside from the obvious problems with the casual torture of a sentient being — likely runs afoul of state and federal humane slaughter laws, including protections designed to prevent meat from sick cows entering the food supply:
Four minutes of excerpts the animal welfare group provided to The Associated Press showed cows being prepared for slaughter. One worker appears to be suffocating a cow by standing on its muzzle after a gun that injects a bolt into the animal’s head had failed to render it unconscious. In another clip, a cow is still conscious and flailing as a conveyor lifts it by one leg for transport to an area where the animals’ throats are slit for blood draining…
The USDA probe will include whether sick “downer” cows entered the food supply. That information would be used to determine whether a recall of the company’s meat products is warranted.
“That’s the main issue right now,” DeJong said.
Just because a cow is down doesn’t mean it’s sick, officials said. The video clips showed some cows with udders swollen so large they could not keep their legs underneath them. One was on the ground twitching, and another tried to walk but kept falling.
While this case is egregious, the abuse of animals is endemic to American factory farming. The horrific treatment of animals has consequences for human as well, as it creates ideal conditions for the incubation of foodborne illnesses. However, Congressional Republicans have pushed legislation that slashes food safety budgets and takes away states’ ability to impose their own standards for humane treatment of animals.