No more downed cows in food supply (for now anyway)

May 23, 2008

The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service this week announced a ban prohibiting all downer cattle from entering the food supply.

Timeline:

  •  Jan. 12, 2004 — USDA prohibits all downer cattle from being slaughtered for human consumption, in response to the first U.S. case of Mad Cow (BSE) discovered in Washington State.
  • July 13, 2007 — USDA reverses course and alters federal regulations to permit some crippled cows to be slaughtered for human consumption.
  •  Jan. 30, 2008 — The HSUS reveals weeks-long investigation’s findings of widespread mistreatment of nonambulatory dairy cows at a Hallmark Meat Packing Co., of Chino, California.
  • Jan. 30, 2008 — USDA suspends Westland Meat Co. as a supplier to the National School Lunch Program and other federal nutrition programs, in response to the weeks-long HSUS investigation of the plant.
  • Jan. 31, 2008 — The HSUS urges schools in 36 states to stop serving Westland meat received through the National School Lunch Program.
  • Feb. 5, 2008 — USDA announces it has pulled its inspectors and shut down the cattle slaughter plant that was the subject of an HSUS undercover investigation. USDA Undersecretary Dr. Richard Raymond cites “egregious violations of humane handling regulations” in pulling inspectors from the plant.
  • Feb. 15, 2008 — San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos charges Daniel Ugarte Navarro with five felony counts under California’s anti-cruelty statute and three misdemeanor counts alleging the use of a mechanical device to move “downer” cows, and a second worker, Jose Luis Sanchez, with three misdemeanors involving downers.
  • Feb. 17, 2008 — USDA announces recall of 143 million pounds of beef, the nation’s largest recall to date, from Hallmark/Westland Meat Co.
  • May 20, 2008 –USDA prohibits all downer cattle from being slaughtered for human consumption.

Human Society US (HSUS) president Wayne Pacelle commended the decision.

“For too long, sick and crippled animals have been allowed into the food supply, putting consumers at risk and subjecting injured and sick animals to needless torment,” he said.

He also said the decision should be expanded to require auction houses and slaughterhouses to immediately, humanely euthanize not only downed cattle, but injured pigs and other livestock.

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