Animal Cruelty Threatens Human Health

Posted by Carter Dillard, ALDF's Director of Litigation on September 7, 2010

Ideally we would not need self-serving reasons to prevent animal cruelty. But as the recent egg salmonella outbreak at factory farms with millions of hens cramped into tiny cages shows, cruelty can threaten human health. The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that factory farming itself may be to blame for large outbreaks of food poisoning.  

This is not the first time we have seen a link between animal cruelty and basic food safety – whether it is cramming hens in tiny cages, dragging animals that cannot walk to slaughter, or force feeding ducks to produce foie gras. It seems intuitive that if you change an animal’s life into something totally unnatural, so different from the life it seems designed to live, unintended consequences will follow.

For example, “downed” cattle who are too sick or injured to stand and walk are more likely to be infected with BSE – bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “mad cow disease.” Studies also suggest such animals may be more likely to harbor foodborne bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, which kill hundreds of Americans every year. That is one reason why ALDF helped ensure that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a California law banning the use of downed animals.

Also, a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that consuming foie gras, which is the fatty and diseased liver made by force feeding ducks and geese, may trigger the development of a serious disease that can cause several serious human health problems.

There is something itself wrong with reducing a living creature to the equivalent of a factory part, a living cash dispenser. But now we have another, and for some a more compelling, reason not to do it: basic food safety.