andrew schneider investigates

February 28, 2008

USDA loophole led to recall

Filed under: Environmental health issues,FDA,Food Safety,Public health legislation — Andrew Schneider @ 09:11

The Humane Society of the United States has filed a suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture to close a dangerous loophole in the agency’s regulations that permitted potentially sick cows into the nation’s food supply

It was the humane society’s investigation that documented extreme cruelty to non-ambulatory or “downer” cattle at a slaughterhouse in Chino, Calif. This led to the largest beef recall in history of 144 million pounds of beef–much of which was fed to school children in at least 40 states.

The society says because downer cattle are at a heightened risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy or “mad cow disease” and other foodborne pathogens, USDA issued an emergency rule in 2004 to prevent downed cattle from being slaughtered for human consumption. However, last year, the agency quietly reversed course and relaxed its rules to permit some crippled cows to be slaughtered for human consumption.

The Humane Society investigator taped the slaughter plant’s employees routinely beating cows to try to make them stand, repeatedly electrocuting cows in the face and eyes, ramming animals with forklift blades and dragging them by chains.

Society officials are testifying before Congress today on the need to close this loophole.

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