Two years ago, undercover video shot for the Humane Society of the United States led to the shutdown of a Chino, CA slaughterhouse that was the second largest supplier to the National School Lunch Program and resulted in the largest beef recall in U.S. history.
State and federal officials Friday closed another slaughterhouse after seeing a new undercover video from the Humane Society. This time it’s a small, custom slaughterhouse in Grand Isle, VT that is certified for organic slaughter and processing through the Northeast Organic Farming Association.
Bushway Packing Inc. exclusively slaughtered “bob veal”–calves that are only a few days old.
Frank Perretta, Bushway’s owner, learned his operation was being shut down Friday afternoon. He told local media he was not aware of any cruel treatment at the plant.
That’s not the way Professor Temple Grandin and his Colorado State University Ph. D. candidate Kurt Vogel see it. Grandin, who was inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame last week, and Vogel reviewed the video and in a written analysis to the Humane Society said “attention to insensibility in this plant are unacceptable and must improve.
Perretta said he was puzzled because the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) routinely oversaw the operations.
That’s apparently what has Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack upset.
Vilsack said the scenes in the Humane Society video are “deplorable” and “unequivocally unacceptable.” He called the behavior and attitudes displayed “callous” and apparent violations of USDA’s humane handling regulations.
FSIS “took immediate action with respect to its employee and the establishment upon preliminary verification of the incident,” Vilsack said.
Secretary Vilsack has asked USDA’s Inspector General to conduct a criminal investigation of the events in the video.
Both USDA and Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture suspended licenses for Bushway Friday, thereby forcing it to cease operations.
“The Vermont Agency of Agriculture was notified by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) late Wednesday afternoon of alleged animal welfare violations at the facility, state Ag Secretary Roger Allbee said.
The state immediately referred the matter to the USDA as the facility is operated and monitored under the inspection of USDA, according to Allbee. “USDA and the state have suspended the operation of the facility and are conducting an investigation. These allegations of inhumane handling and treatment of animals if verified, warrant prompt corrective actions to ensure they do not happen again,” he continued.
“In addition, in accordance with agency animal health statutes, the Attorney General has been notified of possible criminal actions in regards to animal health and welfare. “The agency finds the alleged animal welfare practices disturbing and states that there is no excuse for the inhumane treatment of animals. These practices are not representative of the industry as a whole in Vermont and such actions will not be tolerated in our state. The agency is taking every action within its power to address the situation.”
The Human Society is showing the graphic undercover video on its website at www.hsus.org. It shows calves being kicked, slapped, and inadequately stunned before slaughter for veal.
The video can be seen here:© Food Safety News