USDA eyes whether tainted beef entered food supply

Associated Press Modified: August 22, 2012 at 2:30 am •  Published: August 22, 2012
Advertisement
;

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Federal regulators who shut down a Central California slaughterhouse after receiving an animal welfare video were investigating whether beef from sick cows reached the human food supply.

The video appears to show workers bungling the slaughter of cows struggling to walk and even stand. Under federal regulations, sick animals cannot be slaughtered for human consumption.

The investigation will determine whether sick cows were slaughtered and whether meat products from the company should be recalled, a spokesman for the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service said.

The agency suspended operations Monday at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford after receiving the video Friday from the animal welfare group Compassion Over Killing. The footage shows animals bleeding and thrashing after being repeatedly shot in the head with a pneumatic gun in unsuccessful efforts to render them unconscious for slaughter.

Federal regulations say that to avoid unnecessary suffering during slaughter, animals must be rendered unconscious by a single shot to the head from a pneumatic gun that fires a bolt through the skull to pierce the brain.

The USDA said late Tuesday that it found evidence of inhumane practices on the video, but the footage did not indicate beef from sick cattle got into the food system.

"We have not substantiated a food safety violation at this time. We are aggressively continuing to investigate the allegations," said Al Almanza, administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

In-N-Out Burger, a fast food chain, severed its ties with the company after learning about the situation. Mark Taylor, chief operating officer, said Tuesday the company acted immediately upon becoming aware of it.

"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," Taylor said to The Associated Press in a written statement.

In-N-Out's agreement with suppliers also prohibits companies from shipping beef from sick animals.

Central Valley Meat Co., owned by Brian and Lawrence Coelho, declined to comment on the video, saying company officials had not seen it. On Tuesday, the company hired a public relations firm that issued a statement saying Central Valley Meat Co. is cooperating with investigators.

"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," the statement said. "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."



Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    9-year-old girl dies from brain-eating amoeba after swimming
  2. 2
    Did Pope Francis really tell a 90-year-old atheist journalist that 1 in 50 priests are pedophiles?
  3. 3
    Facebook and Twitter won the World Cup Final
  4. 4
    Dead body falls out of coroner's van along busy road
  5. 5
    Tracy Morgan: Recovering in style -- first pic since NJ turnpike crash
+ show more