Some Good News For Veal Calves in a New Jersey Slaughterhouse

This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stepped up and suspended operations at a calf slaughterhouse in New Jersey following an undercover investigation conducted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that exposed cruelty to veal calves.

The HSUS obtained footage that showed inexcusable abuses of calves, including downers (i.e., those who are injured, or too weak or sick to stand on their own), at the Catelli Brothers slaughterhouse in Shrewsbury, N.J., which performs both kosher and conventional slaughter of veal calves.

Still-conscious calves were seen struggling after being hung upside down on a conveyor belt when they should have been unconscious; others were shot multiple times before being rendered unconscious; still others were dragged, hit, shocked and sprayed with water. According to the HSUS, plant managers were also seen twisting downed calves’ ears and tails when they were too exhausted or weak to stand, lifting some calves entirely by their tails, and telling employees never to do the same when USDA inspectors are watching.

Warning: Graphic Footage

Last week the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service initiated an investigation into the allegations of inhumane slaughter and handling of calves at the facility and found numerous violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which is supposed to prevent unnecessary suffering during slaughter. This week the USDA sent a letter to Catelli Brothers that broke down the violations and basically said it’s nice that they have guidelines in place to avoid this sort of thing, but it’s too bad they weren’t followed. The slaughterhouse has been suspended until it can prove it has taken corrective actions.

The suspension is being applauded, but the HSUS is urging the agency to take further action to protect downer calves. In 2009, a ban on slaughtering downer cows was put into place only months after the HSUS brought to light disturbing evidence of their use for consumption, which resulted in the largest beef recall in U.S. history.

That same year, the HSUS petitioned the USDA to close a loophole that allows slaughter plants to keep downer calves alive and drag them to their deaths following its investigation at the Bushway slaughterplant in Vermont. This past March the USDA announced it would be granting the petition, but has yet to finalize the rule.

“Downed calves are still suffering the sort of appalling abuses that we exposed in 2009 at another calf slaughter plant in Vermont,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO for the HSUS, in a press release. “We commend USDA for taking action to shut down the operation at Catelli Brothers, but it’s long past time to close the loophole in the downed animal rule that perpetuates continuing cruelty to young calves.”

Fortunately, New Jersey has no ag gag laws in place to criminalize whistleblowers who continue to expose this type of abuse and educate the public about ongoing problems with our food system. These investigations aren’t exposing isolated incidents, but a culture of callous indifference towards the lives of sentient animals who are merely considered commodities by agribusinesses. So far this year ag gag bills have been introduced in Indiana and New Hampshire, but New Hampshire’s bill has been tabled.

It’s probably important to note that while many people won’t touch veal because of the cruelty involved, veal calves are direct byproducts of the dairy industry. While females will likely follow in their mother’s footsteps as dairy cows, the calves who have the misfortune of being born male will be sold for beef or veal. The easiest way for us to stop the cycle of suffering is to pass on both meat and dairy products.

Photo credit: Marji Beach/Animal Place via Flickr

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne Brown12 months ago

thanks for sharing

Stephanie C.
Stephanie C.1 years ago

The catelli brothers in NJ was their slaughterhouse model they toured the day after they reopened, but left that part out, and when it was brought to their attention, they continue to downplay, the footage and all. you can find the HSUS undercover video online. please help me bring awareness. there is a page called no slaughterhouse in rome ny. please like! even better if you could contact the councilman Trifeletti as well as links to info. thank you!!
Rome's NJ model for slaughterhouse cited
A New Jersey slaughterhouse held up by Rome officials as an example of what people could expect if such a plant were to come to Rome was shut down temporarily by the U.S.

margaret R
Mags reid1 years ago

Why should there be any need for a "gag" law regarding anything. A "gag" is defined as
1. Something forced into or put over the mouth to prevent speaking or crying out.
2. An obstacle to or a censoring of free speech.
Is there much difference between 1 and 2. When violence is being used to robbed or violated. and 2 is when the legal system chooses to protect perpetraters of misdoing or violaters of laws which exist, or go against the moral views of many. It is an admission that farming standards are not being kept (and so those guilty of the same must be protected!!), Political, industrial, corporate standards are not being kept, and so must be protected. If a "gag" law is needed it means "silencing" whose who disagree.
This video demonstrates and proves the abuse applied to living things.
For myself when I discovered how veal is slaughtered I decided I would not buy or eat it.
I would dearly like to see an end to "gagging" laws and abuse of animals.

Cindy Miars
Cindy Miars1 years ago

I do not understand how anyone can do this. I find this disturbing. Why have calves fallen under a loophole in the law? None of this makes sense. No, I didn't watch the video, reading the article was too painful. If the agriculture gag bill ever passes we are essentially saying abuse is ok.That can never happen. These places need shut down forever & the workers & management of these torture chambers responsible for these hideous acts need punished.

Latonya W.
Latonya W.1 years ago


Andrew C.
Andrew C.1 years ago

Petition signed but couldn't watch the video. They make me too upset and angry at the human race.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H.1 years ago

I didn't watch it either. I have seen other videos of horrific acts and do not want to go there again. Ag gag bills are cloaks for criminals. Personally, any business that has to do with animals should be on a surveillance set up for all to watch and keep in line. The more ag gags that are put in place the more horrific the abuses will get because they know they are untouchable. Veal is abuse from day one. Thankfully, this place was finally caught and shut down.

Sorry, Kathleen S., but God gave up on humans years ago.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla1 years ago

I signed the petition, but did not watch. I can´t, I´d spend days mad at humans....

Sydney M
Sydney M1 years ago

In all honesty I didn't watch the video. I don't want to have nightmares over this. From the written description of what happened to these helpless calves, it can only be concluded that the culprits are sick, twisted sociopaths. I hope and pray that KARMA will eventually catch up with all of them!!!!

Hello Fellow Animal Lovers ........... please check out the following petition regarding the brutal murder of a helpless puppy. Thanks!!!!"