New Abuses Detailed at Slaughterhouse

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:33am.

When an animal with untrimmed horns got stuck in a chute at a California cattle slaughterhouse, employees electrically prodded it repeatedly to get it to move, according to a congressional report on a case that led to the largest beef recall in U.S. history.

An undercover video by the Humane Society of the United States earlier this year already captured workers at Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. dragging crippled cattle with chains, shocking them with electric prods and shooting streams of water in their faces.

But the report by the House Oversight and Government Reform domestic policy subcommittee includes the incident in the chute, which was not on the publicly released video. The subcommittee will discuss the report, and how to achieve greater transparency in the meat industry, at a hearing Thursday.

The report is based in part on an interview that congressional staffers did with the Humane Society investigator who shot the video. He told them that the manager at the plant encouraged the practice he saw in the chute, despite the animal's bellows.

"The investigator noted that the electric prods were used systemically rather than exceptionally on animals while they were on the chute," the report said.

Other findings in the report, based on the investigator's comments:

_Prior to an audit of the plant, management told staffers not to engage in inhumane handling in front of inspectors.

_Employees didn't fear getting caught committing handling abuses because inspectors never showed up unannounced.

Amanda Eamich, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department's Food Safety Inspection Service, which oversees slaughterhouses, said that a pending USDA inspector general report will likely address issues described in the report.

Messages left with Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. President Steve Mendell and his attorney, Asa Hutchinson, were not immediately returned.


FREDERIC J. FROMMER, Associated Press Writer - April 17, 2008 - posted at

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:33am.