The Meat Industry’s Misguided Efforts

Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF's Online Content Manager on January 28, 2009

Many may recall seeing the gruesome video of sick and injured cows being kicked, hit and rammed with forklifts last year after the Humane Society of the United States released footage from their undercover investigation of the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. in Chino, California. The scandal over the abuse of dairy cows at Hallmark exposed major gaps in food safety and humane handling, prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. history, and probably cost the meat industry and the federal government more than $1 billion. Much of the meat produced there was served to school children through the National School Lunch Program.

In the wake of the investigation, California lawmakers approved legislation to improve the state’s food safety and humane slaughter laws. In May 2008, A.B. 2098 was unanimously approved, strengthening California’s law protecting sick and disabled animals by prohibiting slaughterhouses, stockyards, auctions, or dealers from buying, selling, or receiving “downed” animals–those too ill or injured even to stand up–and also prohibiting slaughterhouses from butchering or processing any downed animals.

The new law, which took effect January 1, is already under attack by the meat industry. The National Meat Association (NMA) and the American Meat Institute (AMI)–two trade groups representing major packing and slaughter plant companies–filed a lawsuit that seeks to overturn key provisions of California’s newly upgraded law banning the use of sick and disabled animals in the food supply.

It’s hard to imagine why anyone would argue to allow ill animals into our food supply, especially that which is produced for our school children. Downed cattle are more likely to be infected with BSE – bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “mad cow disease.” Studies suggest animals who are too sick or injured to stand and walk may be more likely to harbor foodborne bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, which kill hundreds of Americans every year.

Tuesday, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, and the Humane Farming Association made it clear that they will defend the law, moving to intervene in the meat industry lawsuit.

Read more about the lawsuit and what ALDF is doing to uphold California’s food safety and humane slaughter laws.


Warning: disturbing footage. Undercover investigation at Chinos Hallmark/Westland slaughterhouse

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