After seeing an undercover video of shocking cruelty to cattle at California slaughterhouse Central Valley Meat Company, the USDA shut the plant down, according to the Associated Press and National Public Radio. At least two USDA inspectors worked on-site at the facility; both have been suspended.
View a four-minute excerpt of the video here.
Compassion Over Killing taped the torture at Central Valley Meat Company over the course of two weeks this summer. It showed workers abusing cows who could not walk by shocking them with electric prods, shooting them repeatedly with captive bolt guns, kicking them, pulling them by their tails, and prodding them with forklifts. Workers also killed conscious animals, leaving them to bleed to death while hoisted in the air by one ankle.
The USDA visited the slaughterhouse after receiving the video from animal advocacy group Compassion Over Killing and found “egregious inhumane handling and treatment of livestock.” According to the USDA, this means “an act or condition that results in severe harm to animals,” and it includes seriously repulsive conduct:
1. Making cuts on or skinning conscious animals;
2. Excessive beating or prodding of ambulatory or nonambulatory disabled animals or dragging of conscious animals;
3. Driving animals off semi-trailers over a drop off without providing adequate unloading facilities (animals are falling to the ground);
4. Running equipment over conscious animals;
5. Stunning of animals and then allowing them to regain consciousness;
6. Multiple attempts, especially in the absence of immediate corrective measures, to stun an animal versus a single blow or shot that renders an animal immediately unconscious;
7. Dismembering conscious animals, for example, cutting off ears or removing feet;
8. Leaving disabled livestock exposed to adverse climate conditions while awaiting disposition, or
9. Otherwise causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals, including situations on trucks.
Slaughterhouse owners Brian and Lawrence Coelho denied any wrongdoing. According to the Better Business Bureau, Central Valley Meat Company has been in business since January 1989.
Central Valley Meat Company provides ground beef to the USDA for its food programs, including school lunches. The cows it slaughters are dairy cows who no longer produce enough milk to be profitable to their owners. Dairy cows make up approximately 2.8 million of the 150 million cattle who are slaughtered for meat each year in the United States.
It is illegal to slaughter sick cows for human consumption. The USDA’s investigation of the slaughterhouse includes ascertaining whether the cows abused because they could not walk were weak from illness.
Compassion Over Killing’s undercover investigators have documented abuses of animals raised for food at many facilities, including those producing chicken, eggs, turkey and foie gras.
Photo credit: flinkthink