On Saturday, the government approved a ban on the use of downer cows, or cows to sick, weak or injured to stand, in the hopes of keeping sick animals out of the food supply, and preventing the spread of problems like mad cow disease.
While there was already a partial ban in place, cows that collapsed after a USDA inspection were still processed.
The ban was proposed three months after the results hit the news from last year’s undercover investigation of Westland/Hallmark in California, led by the Humane Society, that brought to light disturbing evidence of the use of downer cows for consumption and resulted in 143 million pounds of meat being recalled. The largest recall of beef in U.S. history.
Their investigation documented animals “too sick or injured to stand or walk-called “downers” by industry-being kicked, beaten, dragged with chains, shocked with electric prods, sprayed in the face with hoses, and rammed by forklifts in efforts to get them to their feet to pass USDA inspection.”
You can see some of the footage from the investigation here.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the ban was “a step forward for both food safety and the standards for humane treatment of animals.”