Beyond the cruelty evident in the video, the Washington Post explains that putting downer cattle into the food supply is dangerous.
One reason that regulations call for keeping downers -- cows that cannot stand up -- out of the food supply is that they may harbor bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. It is caused by a virus-like infectious particle that can cause a fatal brain disease in people.Here is the USDA response yesterday from Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer:
Another is because such animals have, in many cases, been wallowing in feces, posing added risks of E. coli and salmonella contamination.
The Humane Society and other groups have for years urged Congress to pass legislation that would tighten oversight at slaughterhouses.
"While we are conducting our investigation, today, USDA has indefinitely suspended Westland Meat Company as a supplier to Federal food and nutrition programs. Westland Meat Company will not be permitted to produce or deliver any products currently under contract. Under the suspension, no further contracts will be awarded to Westland Meat Company. The suspension will remain in effect until all investigations are complete and appropriate action is taken by the Department. An administrative hold has been placed on all Westland Meat Products that are in, or destined for Federal food and nutrition programs.The coverage at Ethicurean doesn't think much of Schafer's complaint that the Humane Society should have come directly to USDA with this information.
"It is unfortunate that the Humane Society of the United States did not present this information to us when these alleged violations occurred in the fall of 2007. Had we known at the time the alleged violations occurred, we would have initiated our investigation sooner, and taken appropriate actions at that time."
The USDA had ample opportunities to discover what was going on. An inspector visited the Westland plant twice a day at the same exact time — always a great way to keep tabs on something. Do health inspectors tell restaurants when they’re coming through?My five-year-old daughter has been asking questions about vegetarianism, which I'll tell you about in a future post. Meanwhile, maybe it's time to join the New York Time's Mark Bittman in at least rethinking our meat consumption.
The meat industry in this country is broken from start to finish. We take ruminants and feed them grain their stomachs weren’t designed to eat, treating them like garbage disposals for our industrial leftovers; implant steroids so they’ll grow faster; feed them antibiotics so they can survive the poor diets and crowded feedlot conditions; then ship them to slaughterhouses where they are killed and processed at speeds that practically beg for bacterial contamination and worker injuries.
What will it take to get Americans to stop eating beef that’s been marinated in E. coli and suffering? At what point will we say enough is enough?