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Central Valley Meat Company: USDA Did its Job, OK?

Opinion

On August 19, 2012, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) ordered its inspection staff at Central Valley Meat (CVM) to go home. Because the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) of 1906 requires inspection by USDA to be continuous during slaughter of cattle, this USDA action essentially shuttered the plant for the time being.

This action at CVM has been well documented at Food Safety News and many other electronic Ag and Meat journals. The reporting has been fair and complete, but the discussions that have followed have been, at times, so inaccurate and unfair that I have felt the need to respond in some detail.

I was at the USDA on February 1, 2008, when a similar action was taken at Hallmark/Westland meats. There are similarities and there are differences, but the role of the USDA was the same at both plants.

First, the similarities:

Undercover agents working at slaughter plants as undercover agents for the Humane Society of the United States (Hallmark/Westland) and Compassion Over Killing (CVM) used hidden cameras to film egregious inhumane handling of cows.

Both animal rights groups have an agenda that includes preventing the killing of animals for human consumption. This agenda can be moved forward with disgustingly shocking videos, and by driving the cost of meat up by necessitating changes in the slaughter and fabricating processes.

Both plants slaughtered a very large number of old, culled dairy cows and sold beef to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

If you want to get the public’s attention using video, you want to go to a facility that slaughters old dairy cows and then sells the meat to the NSLP. As opposed to 20-30 month old steers that have been content to eat grain in a feedlot, these cows are often 10-12 years of age, and are often not in good enough shape to handle a ride of even a few miles in hot weather.

They sometimes are sick, they always are old, and they often lay down to rest and refuse to get up. And here lies the opportunity for video if the plant is not impeccable in its handling of these non-ambulatory or “downer” animals.

But on with the similarities:

Each plant had an inspection work force felt to be adequate to assure our meat was safe. That work force would include on-line inspectors whose only opportunity to observe inhumane handling would be coming to and going from work plus break time, time which is officially their own, not the plant’s or the USDA’s.

There might be one or two off-line inspectors with multiple responsibilities.

There would also be a Public Health Veterinarian on duty. S/He is responsible in most plants to observe animals in motion and at rest to screen for Central Nervous System disorders such as BSE and other chronic disease manifestations.

But this individual is also usually responsible for carcass by carcass inspection after the hide has been pulled off. At Hallmark, this individual was condemning about 20 carcasses per day to protect you and me.

You see, contrary to so many discussants’ uninformed opinions, this person cannot be in two places at once.

I compare the PHV to a State Trooper.

It is my job to obey the speed limit, it is the trooper’s job to be a presence at times that encourages me to not speed, not knowing when he will pop up.

It is the plant’s job to obey the Humane handling Act, and it is the PHV’s job to occasionally stroll through the pens to confirm the Act is being complied with.

If the discussants calling for USDA employee’s heads, and even the Secretary’s job, want 24/7 FSIS coverage, then go get the funding for it and watch our taxes go up.

There was one major difference, so far, between CVM and Hallmark.

In 2008, if a cow had passed antemortem inspection by the PHV, in motion and at rest, then decided to lie down and not get up, the plant could ask the PHV to come out to the pen and examine the animal.

If a cause for the non-ambulatory condition could be determined, such as a fractured leg or ruptured tendon, the animal could be euthanized on the spot and then taken to the knock box.

In the Hallmark incident, there was irrefutable evidence that non-ambulatory cattle entered the food supply without follow up inspection by the PHV. Investigations confirmed this had been going on for over one year. Not often, but on occasion.

This fact makes the meat “unfit” for consumption because rules were not followed and proper inspection not completed.

We were criticized, but why have rules like the “downer rule” if they are not a part of protection of the food supply?

The HSUS won on this count, because the USDA responded the next year by completely banning all downers and non-ambulatory cattle from getting into the food chain. Throwing away perfectly good meat is a waste, and drives up the cost of our beef.

One slaughter plant out of 800 tried to cheat the system, and an entire industry was taken to task.

The difference, so far, at CVM, is that although the video is despicable, there is no evidence these mistreated animals ever got into the facility and the food chain.

It is being said by bashers of the federal government that the USDA overreacted at CVM. There is a law, passed by Congress and signed by the President of the United States that says inhumane handling will not be tolerated and FSIS is to suspend inspection when it is seen.

USDA/FSIS was simply following the law. You don’t like it, change the law but do not drag these federal employees over the coals for doing what they had to do.

If any reader is interested, the transcript of my testimony in front of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, regarding Hallmark/Westland and the Q and A that followed can be seen online.

In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it. There are many interlocking steps to keep us safe, including:

1. The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.

2. The removal of Specified Risk Materials in the slaughter facilities under the continuous and watchful eyes of FSIS Inspectors to protect human health.

3. The observation by the PHVs of animals in motion.

4. No downers or non-ambulatory cattle allowed in the food chain, and

5. The USDA’s ongoing surveillance of animals at high risk for BSE, assuring us that the exposure risk is almost nil.

Editor’s Note: –Dr. Raymond Responds To Some of the Comments Below–

Wowser, only a blog on raw milk could stir up more vitriol and I was only stating the facts behind USDA”s action.

Shelly, if you go to the COK web sight, the second sentence you will read is this:

“COK focuses on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promotes vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world, both for humans and nonhumans.”

So please explain your first response by saying I had lost all creditibility by calling a spade a spade?

And just so you know, the USDA will not be fining Central Valley because the law prohibits them from doing so. I know, because ever
y year we went to the Appropriations Committee with our budget and requested authority to fine plants for certain circumstances and every year we were denied. Again, just trying to point out the facts so people can make informed decisions and comments.

As for the comment that USDA is supposed to promote Ag, and therefore this action should get people fired? As I tried to explain, they just followed the law. And besides promoting Ag, they promote and protect animal, plant and human health, run the US Forest Service, direct food stamps and school lunches to name a few other items of business for the USDA.

Shelly, where do I “imply” the video was ‘staged”? I called is disgusting and despicable, but I meant the footage, not the technique.

I have no problems with vegans, everyone should have a choice. What I have a problem with is when others try to impose their beliefs on me by driving up the cost of meat. Oh, and yes, perfectly good meat is destroyed because the Obama Administration banned all non-ambulatory cattle, not just old culled dairy cows. 20 month old, grain fed steers break legs and rupture tendons on ice and slippery surfaces. We use to be able to eat them, now they are taken to rendering and that, my friends, is a waste and drives up costs at the grocery stores.

The animal rights activists are winning, and we are helping them with inhumane practices.

BTW, USDA shuttered 12 plants in 1997, the year before Hallmark, for inhumane handling observed by FSIS employees. They just didn’t send the videos to the Washington Post and NY Times.

Image: Watering cattle and providing shelter are two important ways to help keep them cooler and less stressed during heat waves.

Photo by Keith Weller, USDA, ARS, Photo Library.

© Food Safety News
  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    “Both animal rights groups have an agenda that includes preventing the killing of animals for human consumption. This agenda can be moved forward with disgustingly shocking videos, and by driving the cost of meat up by necessitating changes in the slaughter and fabricating processes. ”
    You lost any credibility–any–with this paragraph.
    Yes, many in the animal welfare movement would like to end all meat consumption, but others in the movement are doing nothing more than attempting to stop the most, as you say, egregious forms of cruelty when it comes to livestock practices.
    Throwing away perfectly good meat? From cows too sick to even move? Are you serious?
    No wonder we have the problems we have today, if your attitude reflects the USDA’s attitude at the time you were still employed by the government. Hopefully, times have changed with you gone.
    The people doing most of the blaming of the USDA in this incident are people who are also doing everything in their power to misdirect attention from the entity truly responsible for the cruel practices outlined in the video: the company that owns and operates the plant.
    The lack of training and capability demonstrated in the video should give any person concerned about food safety pause, because if this level of incompetency is matched throughout the plant, then we have to wonder how safe the meat truly is.
    We are all aware that the USDA is underfunded. That doesn’t mean we have to just say, “Oh well, guess we can’t do anything”. What we can do is what the undercover investigators did do: expose the acts of cruelty, and take the investigative material to the USDA for prompt action. And the action was prompt.
    If, as you imply, the videos are “staged” or not conclusive, the USDA would not have acted.
    So perhaps in your reactive defense of the USDA, you might consider the fact that these investigators acted in concert with the USDA, not against it.

  • Ted

    No, not OK Doc. Not even close to OK.
    You correctly point out inspectors are to be pulled when inhumane treatment is endemic at the plant in question. Obviously your intrepid inspectors did not see with their own eyes evidence sufficient to warrant their walking off the job.
    No, instead some USDA PR toadie viewed biased unofficial video images from known hostile activists, then panicked and pulled inspection from the plant, effectively destroying it.
    USDA rushed into the activists’ arms, eagerly playing the stooge to their underhanded agenda.
    USDA missed the play. Completely. Then covered it’s own ass against the threat of nasty public relations flak from extremists in our midst.
    Screw USDA if they aren’t there for agriculture. Close the department to reduce the national debt…or rename it the United States Department of Anti-agriculture. Goddam scab bureaucrats being jerked around by the hair.

  • Jon

    Seems former USDAer and now Meatingplace advocate “Doc Meat” has a bone to pick with food safety scrutiny:
    “The HSUS won on this count, because the USDA responded the next year by completely banning all downers and non-ambulatory cattle from getting into the food chain. Throwing away perfectly good meat is a waste, and drives up the cost of our beef.
    Given a choice many consumers might not appreciate the “perfectly good meat” of “spent” dairy cows. Inbred factory dairy cows that are confined on concrete for their entire lives, drug injected, milked 3 times a day, fed farm waste products including chicken manure/bedding fed cow parts doesn’t produce a high quality or safe meat to begin with. And Doc — and Ted — feel prohibiting downers is a waste?

  • gmh

    Hmmm…seems to be a strange sort of consensus forming — USDA has not only dropped the ball, it has kicked it out of bounds to penalize the home team.
    From meatless Mondays to kneejerk plant closings, USDA seems to be hacking away at the very agriculture they are funded to promote. Time to stop defending USDA and begin defunding USDA. Do a complete spring housecleaning — from top to bottom sweep skulking antifarm advocates on the USDA dole back out into the nonprofit sector where they belong.
    Vilsack should step down. USDA programs hurtful to agriculture should be dismantled — the entire USDA can go if need be. Election year and a farm bill on the horizon — no better time than the present to set sinister out-of-whack things aright. Call and email your congressmen, insist our corrupted USDA be cleaned up or shut down. Espionage and sabotage at USDA threaten food security and so national security.
    Finally, a cause everyone can agree upon!

  • http://facebook.com/veganforlife Janet Weeks V

    No words, just utter disbelief. USDA decides: it’s cruelty as usual for California slaughterhouse, in spite of USDA policy. Humane Methods of Slaughter Act? Bah humbug! At least now consumers KNOW FOR SURE that their hamburger and dairy come from sick, lame cows who can barely walk to the kill floor and are beaten, prodded with electric prods, sprayed with scalding water, and tortured before and while they are killed. Will USDA or plant managers monitor the animal cruelty at this facility or install video surveillance? Highly unlikely. It’s cruelty as usual in spite of American values and morality. The only way to stop this insanity is to quit buying the product. No meat. No dairy. No eggs.
    Go Vegan and nobody gets hurt.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRS-kzgoRq0

  • appalled

    Let’s correct your “trooper” analogy Doc. Here’s what just happened:
    Imagine for the moment I don’t care for you or the way you live so I stalk you everywhere you go, waiting for an opportunity to jam you up good. I spot a trooper who’s distracted and recognize my chance.
    I run up to the trooper screaming and crying and flailing my arms and tell him I saw you roll through a stop sign and show him where I’ve published on the internet some video of some car rolling through some stop sign. I threaten to raise holy Hell with the trooper and his supervisor and his supervisor’s supervisor, and so on. That trooper thinks he isn’t paid enough, certainly not enough to protect you (and himself) from my hysteria. Not to worry; there is an expedient solution, however.
    And I am gratified when the trooper immediately hunts you down and suspends your drivers license, impounds your car and prevents you showing up at your work so you get fired. I am so delighted I practically wet myself.
    Consider it a weaselly form of vigilante citizen’s arrest if it makes you feel any better.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    The plant re-opened today, after the USDA reviewed its plan for correction.
    So much for destroying the plant.
    I would hope that the agency at least imposes some stiff fines.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Perhaps better than a fine is the fact that so many companies will no longer do business with Central Valley Meat. And it can’t supply meat to the school lunch program until it proves it has mended its ways.
    In the end, the videos did do what they hoped to accomplish: eliminate egregious acts of inhumane cruelty.
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/central-valley-slaughterhouse-reopens.html

  • http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/ Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

    OPINION REBUTTAL Terry
    Greetings,
    Well Dr. Raymond, since you called me out, I must respond Sir. Yes, our children health and safety mean more to me than taxes.
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
    “then go get the funding for it and watch our taxes go up.”
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
    In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it. There are many interlocking steps to keep us safe, including:
    1. The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.
    2. The removal of Specified Risk Materials in the slaughter facilities under the continuous and watchful eyes of FSIS Inspectors to protect human health.
    3. The observation by the PHVs of animals in motion.
    4. No downers or non-ambulatory cattle allowed in the food chain, and
    5. The USDA’s ongoing surveillance of animals at high risk for BSE, assuring us that the exposure risk is almost nil.
    Image: Watering cattle and providing shelter are two important ways to help keep them cooler and less stressed during heat waves. Photo by Keith Weller, USDA, ARS, Photo Library.
    © Food Safety News
    Hello Dr. Raymond Sir,
    Indeed I would like to comment on some of your fallacies Dr. Raymond.
    Dr. Ramond stated in 1. that ;
    1. The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.
    Sir, as late as 2007, one decade post partial and voluntary mad cow feed ban, 10,000,000. pounds of banned prohibited blood laced meat and bone meal mad cow feed went out into commerce, to be fed out. 2006 was a banner year as well for suspect banned mad cow protein in commerce. “The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.” that you state Sir, was merely ink on paper for the past decade. You can see for yourself here, I have listed some, but not all here ;
    Saturday, August 4, 2012
    Final Feed Investigation Summary – California BSE Case – July 2012
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/final-feed-investigation-summary.html
    even more disturbing now ;
    Sunday, August 26, 2012
    Detection of PrPSc in peripheral tissues of clinically affected cattle after oral challenge with BSE
    http://vir.sgmjournals.org/content/early/2012/08/16/vir.0.044578-0.abstract
    more here ;
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/detection-of-prpsc-in-peripheral.html
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
    2. The removal of Specified Risk Materials in the slaughter facilities under the continuous and watchful eyes of FSIS Inspectors to protect human health.
    Dr. Raymond Sir, another ink on paper only phenomenon. please see the many breaches on specified risk materials here ;
    a few examples, one very recently, and the following link will list more SRM breaches ;
    2011
    Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio Department of Health
    Governor
    John R. Kasich
    Lieutenant Governor
    Mary Taylor
    ODA Director
    James Zehringer
    ODH Director
    Theodore E. Wymyslo, M.D.
    DT: July 14, 2011
    TO: Health Commissioners, Directors of Environmental Health and Interested Parties
    RE: Recall Announcement (ODA/ODH) 2011-076
    Valley Farm Meats (DBA Strasburg Provision, Inc) Issues Precautionary Recall for Beef Products Due to Possible Contamination with Prohibited Materials
    [STRASBURG, Ohio] – Valley Farm Meats (DBA Strasburg Provision, Inc) of Strasburg, OH announces a voluntary recall of an unknown amount of beef products that may contain the spinal cord and vertebral column, which are considered specified risk materials (SRMs). SRMs must be removed from cattle over 30 months of age in accordance with federal and state regulations. SRMs are tissues that are known to contain the infective agent in cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), as well as materials that are closely associated with these potentially infective tissues. Therefore, federal and state regulations prohibit SRMs from use as human food to minimize potential human exposure to the BSE agent.
    http://www.agri.ohio.gov/public_docs/recalls/2011/Recall_FS_76-2011.pdf
    North Dakota Firm Recalls Whole Beef Head Products That Contain Prohibited Materials
    Recall Release CLASS II RECALL FSIS-RC-023-2010 HEALTH RISK: LOW
    Congressional and Public Affairs (202) 720-9113 Catherine Cochran
    WASHINGTON, April 5, 2010 – North American Bison Co-Op, a New Rockford, N.D., establishment is recalling approximately 25,000 pounds of whole beef heads containing tongues that may not have had the tonsils completely removed, which is not compliant with regulations that require the removal of tonsils from cattle of all ages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
    Tonsils are considered a specified risk material (SRM) and must be removed from cattle of all ages in accordance with FSIS regulations. SRMs are tissues that are known to contain the infective agent in cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), as well as materials that are closely associated with these potentially infective tissues. Therefore, FSIS prohibits SRMs from use as human food to minimize potential human exposure to the BSE agent.
    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Recall_023_2010_Release/index.asp
    Missouri Firm Recalls Cattle Heads That Contain Prohibited Materials
    Recall Release CLASS II RECALL FSIS-RC-021-2008 HEALTH RISK: LOW
    Congressional and Public Affairs (202) 720-9113 Amanda Eamich
    WASHINGTON, June 26, 2008 – Paradise Locker Meats, a Trimble, Mo., establishment, is voluntarily recalling approximately 120 pounds of fresh cattle heads with tonsils not completely removed, which is not compliant with regulations that require the removal of tonsils from cattle of all ages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.
    Tonsils are considered a specified risk material (SRM) and must be removed from cattle of all ages in accordance with FSIS regulations. SRMs are tissues that are known to contain the infective agent in cattle infected with BSE, as well as materials that are closely associated with these potentially infective tissues. Therefore, FSIS prohibits SRMs from use as human food to minimize potential human exposure to the BSE agent.
    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Recall_021_2008_Release/index.asp
    see many more SRM breaches here ;
    Saturday, August 4, 2012
    Final Feed Investigation Summary – California BSE Case – July 2012
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/final-feed-investigation-summary.html
    again, even more disturbing now ;
    Sunday, August 26, 2012
    Detection of PrPSc in peripheral tissues of clinically affected cattle after oral challenge with BSE
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/detection-of-prpsc-in-peripheral.html
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
    3. The observation by the PHVs of animals in motion.
    Sir, you stated yourself that Public Health Veterinarian ;
    > But this individual is also usually responsible for carcass by carcass inspection after the hide has been pulled off. At Hallmark, this individual was condemning about 20 carcasses per day to protect you and me.
    > You see, contrary to so many discussants’ uninformed opinions, this person cannot be in two places at once.
    > It is the plant’s job to obey the Humane handling Act, and it is the PHV’s job to occasionally stroll through the pens to confirm the Act is being complied with.
    > If the discussants calling for USDA employee’s heads, and even the Secretary’s job, want 24/7 FSIS coverage, then go get the funding for it and watch our taxes go up.
    Sir, after the Hallmark debacle, and the fact that deadstock downer cows did make it to the NSLP, and the fact of the National recall there from, I find it disturbing still that there is NO recall of the meat, if any left, from the Central Valley Meat company from last year. You Sir, nor anyone else, can guarantee now that these type practices have not occurred last year, the year before, and or the year before that at Central Valley Meat Co., and I think our children, and the fact that ;
    > > > Ackerman says downed cattle are 50 times more likely to have mad cow disease (also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE) than ambulatory cattle that are suspected of having BSE. Of the 20 confirmed cases of mad cow disease in North America since 1993, at least 16 have involved downer cattle, he said. < < <
    I think our childrens safety from the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy TSE prion mad cow type disease, is much more important.
    don’t forget the children…
    PLEASE be aware, for 4 years, the USDA fed our children all across the Nation (including TEXAS) dead stock downer cows, the most high risk cattle for BSE aka mad cow disease and other dangerous pathogens. who will watch our children for CJD for the next 5+ decades ???
    WAS your child exposed to mad cow disease via the NSLP ???
    HALLMARK DEBACLE HERE WITH DOWNERS AND OUR CHILDREN VIA THE USDA AND THE NSLP.
    SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM FROM DOWNER CATTLE UPDATE
    http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2009/05/who-will-watch-children.html
    http://downercattle.blogspot.com/
    DID YOUR CHILD CONSUME SOME OF THESE DEAD STOCK DOWNER COWS, THE MOST HIGH RISK FOR MAD COW DISEASE ???
    this recall was not for the welfare of the animals. …tss
    you can check and see here ;
    http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/safety/pdf/Hallmark-Westland_byState.pdf
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
    4. No downers or non-ambulatory cattle allowed in the food chain, and
    Sir, this the be now, if your not caught at it. that’s why some want the undercover videos banned. Also, I still think that prisoners are humans, and they are being fed pet food in some instances. could this happen with the NSLP ??? let’s hope not, but in the past, during the infamous enhanced BSE surveillance program, there was gentleman supplying the USDA, with PERFECTLY HEALTHY CATTLE BRAINS FOR TESTING, brains that he knew were free from mad cow disease. your system is far from perfect, in fact, it’s an imperfect system. it has been shown to have flaws, major flaws time and time again by the GAO and OIG, and others. these are the facts.
    see Texas prisoners being fed pet food here;
    http://www.justice.gov/usao/txe/News/2012/edtx-john-soules-foods-081712.html
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
    5. The USDA’s ongoing surveillance of animals at high risk for BSE, assuring us that the exposure risk is almost nil.
    I kindly disagree Sir, and so does the OIE. That’s why the USA is still classified as BSE GBR risk factor of 3. there are many flaws Sir, and because of the fact of still feeding cows to cows via banned suspect BSE feed as late as 2007, millions and millions of pounds, and the most recent atypical L-type BASE BSE in California in 2012, I think the USA BSE GBR risk factor should be raised to BSE GBR 4.
    NOW, what about that mad cow BSE surveillance and testing program ???
    PAUL BROWN COMMENT TO ME ON THIS ISSUE
    Tuesday, September 12, 2006 11:10 AM
    “Actually, Terry, I have been critical of the USDA handling of the mad cow issue for some years, and with Linda Detwiler and others sent lengthy detailed critiques and recommendations to both the USDA and the Canadian Food Agency.”
    OR, what the Honorable Phyllis Fong of the OIG found ;
    Audit Report
    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
    Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Surveillance Program – Phase II
    and
    Food Safety and Inspection Service
    Controls Over BSE Sampling, Specified Risk Materials, and Advanced Meat Recovery Products – Phase III
    Report No. 50601-10-KC January 2006
    Finding 2 Inherent Challenges in Identifying and Testing High-Risk Cattle Still Remain
    http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/50601-10-KC.pdf
    “”These 9,200 cases were different because brain tissue samples were preserved with formalin, which makes them suitable for only one type of test–immunohistochemistry, or IHC.”
    THIS WAS DONE FOR A REASON!
    THE IHC test has been proven to be the LEAST LIKELY to detect BSE/TSE in the bovine, and these were probably from the most high risk cattle pool, the ones the USDA et al, SHOULD have been testing. …TSS
    USDA 2003
    We have to be careful that we don’t get so set in the way we do things that we forget to look for different emerging variations of disease. We’ve gotten away from collecting the whole brain in our systems. We’re using the brain stem and we’re looking in only one area. In Norway, they were doing a project and looking at cases of Scrapie, and they found this where they did not find lesions or PRP in the area of the obex. They found it in the cerebellum and the cerebrum. It’s a good lesson for us. Ames had to go back and change the procedure for looking at Scrapie samples. In the USDA, we had routinely looked at all the sections of the brain, and then we got away from it. They’ve recently gone back. Dr. Keller: Tissues are routinely tested, based on which tissue provides an ‘official’ test result as recognized by APHIS.
    Dr. Detwiler: That’s on the slaughter. But on the clinical cases, aren’t they still asking for the brain? But even on the slaughter, they’re looking only at the brainstem. We may be missing certain things if we confine ourselves to one area.
    snip………….
    Dr. Detwiler: It seems a good idea, but I’m not aware of it. Another important thing to get across to the public is that the negatives do not guarantee absence of infectivity. The animal could be early in the disease and the incubation period. Even sample collection is so important. If you’re not collecting the right area of the brain in sheep, or if collecting lymphoreticular tissue, and you don’t get a good biopsy, you could miss the area with the PRP in it and come up with a negative test. There’s a new, unusual form of Scrapie that’s been detected in Norway. We have to be careful that we don’t get so set in the way we do things that we forget to look for different emerging variations of disease. We’ve gotten away from collecting the whole brain in our systems. We’re using the brain stem and we’re looking in only one area. In Norway, they were doing a project and looking at cases of Scrapie, and they found this where they did not find lesions or PRP in the area of the obex. They found it in the cerebellum and the cerebrum. It’s a good lesson for us. Ames had to go back and change the procedure for looking at Scrapie samples. In the USDA, we had routinely looked at all the sections of the brain, and then we got away from it. They’ve recently gone back.
    Dr. Keller: Tissues are routinely tested, based on which tissue provides an ‘official’ test result as recognized by APHIS .
    Dr. Detwiler: That’s on the slaughter. But on the clinical cases, aren’t they still asking for the brain? But even on the slaughter, they’re looking only at the brainstem. We may be missing certain things if we confine ourselves to one area.
    snip…
    FULL TEXT;
    Completely Edited Version PRION ROUNDTABLE
    Accomplished this day, Wednesday, December 11, 2003, Denver, Colorado
    2005
    http://madcowtesting.blogspot.com/2009/02/report-on-testing-ruminants-for-tses-in.html
    FINAL REPORT 2ND TEXAS MAD COW
    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/bse/downloads/bse_final_epi_report8-05.pdf
    Subject: USDA OIG SEMIANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS FY 2007 1st Half (bogus BSE sampling FROM HEALTHY USDA CATTLE) Date: June 21, 2007 at 2:49 pm PST
    Owner and Corporation Plead Guilty to Defrauding Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Surveillance Program
    An Arizona meat processing company and its owner pled guilty in February 2007 to charges of theft of Government funds, mail fraud, and wire fraud. The owner and his company defrauded the BSE Surveillance Program when they falsified BSE Surveillance Data Collection Forms and then submitted payment requests to USDA for the services. In addition to the targeted sample population (those cattle that were more than 30 months old or had other risk factors for BSE), the owner submitted to USDA, or caused to be submitted, BSE obex (brain stem) samples from healthy USDA-inspected cattle. As a result, the owner fraudulently received approximately $390,000. Sentencing is scheduled for May 2007.
    snip…
    Topics that will be covered in ongoing or planned reviews under Goal 1 include:
    soundness of BSE maintenance sampling (APHIS),
    implementation of Performance-Based Inspection System enhancements for specified risk material (SRM) violations and improved inspection controls over SRMs (FSIS and APHIS),
    snip…
    The findings and recommendations from these efforts will be covered in future semiannual reports as the relevant audits and investigations are completed.
    4 USDA OIG SEMIANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS FY 2007 1st Half
    http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/sarc070619.pdf
    -MORE Office of the United States Attorney District of Arizona FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For Information Contact Public Affairs February 16, 2007 WYN HORNBUCKLE Telephone: (602) 514-7625 Cell: (602) 525-2681
    CORPORATION AND ITS PRESIDENT PLEAD GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING GOVERNMENT’S MAD COW DISEASE SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM
    PHOENIX — Farm Fresh Meats, Inc. and Roland Emerson Farabee, 55, of Maricopa, Arizona, pleaded guilty to stealing $390,000 in government funds, mail fraud and wire fraud, in federal district court in Phoenix. U.S. Attorney Daniel Knauss stated, “The integrity of the system that tests for mad cow disease relies upon the honest cooperation of enterprises like Farm Fresh Meats. Without that honest cooperation, consumers both in the U.S. and internationally are at risk. We want to thank the USDA’s Office of Inspector General for their continuing efforts to safeguard the public health and enforce the law.” Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee were charged by Information with theft of government funds, mail fraud and wire fraud. According to the Information, on June 7, 2004, Farabee, on behalf of Farm Fresh Meats, signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (the “USDA Agreement”) to collect obex samples from cattle at high risk of mad cow disease (the “Targeted Cattle Population”). The Targeted Cattle Population consisted of the following cattle: cattle over thirty months of age; nonambulatory cattle; cattle exhibiting signs of central nervous system disorders; cattle exhibiting signs of mad cow disease; and dead cattle. Pursuant to the USDA Agreement, the USDA agreed to pay Farm Fresh Meats $150 per obex sample for collecting obex samples from cattle within the Targeted Cattle Population, and submitting the obex samples to a USDA laboratory for mad cow disease testing. Farm Fresh Meats further agreed to maintain in cold storage the sampled cattle carcasses and heads until the test results were received by Farm Fresh Meats.
    Evidence uncovered during the government’s investigation established that Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee submitted samples from cattle outside the Targeted Cattle Population. Specifically, Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee submitted, or caused to be submitted, obex samples from healthy, USDA inspected cattle, in order to steal government moneys.
    Evidence collected also demonstrated that Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee failed to maintain cattle carcasses and heads pending test results and falsified corporate books and records to conceal their malfeasance. Such actions, to the extent an obex sample tested positive (fortunately, none did), could have jeopardized the USDA’s ability to identify the diseased animal and pinpoint its place of origin. On Wednesday, February 14, 2007, Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee pleaded guilty to stealing government funds and using the mails and wires to effect the scheme. According to their guilty pleas:
    (a) Farm Fresh Meats collected, and Farabee directed others to collect, obex samples from cattle outside the Targeted Cattle Population, which were not subject to payment by the USDA;
    (b) Farm Fresh Meats 2 and Farabee caused to be submitted payment requests to the USDA knowing that the requests were based on obex samples that were not subject to payment under the USDA Agreement;
    (c) Farm Fresh Meats completed and submitted, and Farabee directed others to complete and submit, BSE Surveillance Data Collection Forms to the USDA’s testing laboratory that were false and misleading;
    (d) Farm Fresh Meats completed and submitted, and Farabee directed others to complete and submit, BSE Surveillance Submission Forms filed with the USDA that were false and misleading;
    (e) Farm Fresh Meats falsified, and Farabee directed others to falsify, internal Farm Fresh Meats documents to conceal the fact that Farm Fresh Meats was seeking and obtaining payment from the USDA for obex samples obtained from cattle outside the Targeted Cattle Population; and
    (f) Farm Fresh Meats failed to comply with, and Farabee directed others to fail to comply with, the USDA Agreement by discarding cattle carcasses and heads prior to receiving BSE test results. A conviction for theft of government funds carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Mail fraud and wire fraud convictions carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment. Convictions for the above referenced violations also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Earl H. Carroll will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
    Sentencing is set before Judge Earl H. Carroll on May 14, 2007. The investigation in this case was conducted by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Alejandro Quintero, United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General. The prosecution is being handled by Robert Long, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix. CASE NUMBER: CR-07-00160-PHX-EHC RELEASE NUMBER: 2007-051(Farabee) # # #
    http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2007/2007-051(Farabee).pdf
    Section 2. Testing Protocols and Quality Assurance Controls
    In November 2004, USDA announced that its rapid screening test, Bio-Rad Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), produced an inconclusive BSE test result as part of its enhanced BSE surveillance program. The ELISA rapid screening test performed at a BSE contract laboratory produced three high positive reactive results.40 As required,41 the contract laboratory forwarded the inconclusive sample to the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) for confirmatory testing. NVSL repeated the ELISA testing and again produced three high positive reactive results.42 In accordance with its established protocol, NVSL ran its confirmatory test, an immunohistochemistry (IHC) test, which was interpreted as negative for BSE. In addition, NVSL performed a histological43 examination of the tissue and did not detect lesions44 consistent with BSE.
    Faced with conflicting results, NVSL scientists recommended additional testing to resolve the discrepancy but APHIS headquarters officials concluded no further testing was necessary because testing protocols were followed. In our discussions with APHIS officials, they justified their decision not to do additional testing because the IHC is internationally recognized as the “gold standard.” Also, they believed that conducting additional tests would undermine confidence in USDA’s established testing protocols.
    http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/50601-10-KC.pdf
    FDA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 4, 2004 Media Inquiries: 301-827-6242 Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA
    Statement on Texas Cow With Central Nervous System Symptoms
    On Friday, April 30th, the Food and Drug Administration learned that a cow with central nervous system symptoms had been killed and shipped to a processor for rendering into animal protein for use in animal feed.
    FDA, which is responsible for the safety of animal feed, immediately began an investigation. On Friday and throughout the weekend, FDA investigators inspected the slaughterhouse, the rendering facility, the farm where the animal came from, and the processor that initially received the cow from the slaughterhouse.
    FDA’s investigation showed that the animal in question had already been rendered into “meat and bone meal” (a type of protein animal feed). Over the weekend FDA was able to track down all the implicated material. That material is being held by the firm, which is cooperating fully with FDA.
    Cattle with central nervous system symptoms are of particular interest because cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, also known as “mad cow disease,” can exhibit such symptoms. In this case, there is no way now to test for BSE. But even if the cow had BSE, FDA’s animal feed rule would prohibit the feeding of its rendered protein to other ruminant animals (e.g., cows, goats, sheep, bison).
    FDA is sending a letter to the firm summarizing its findings and informing the firm that FDA will not object to use of this material in swine feed only. If it is not used in swine feed, this material will be destroyed. Pigs have been shown not to be susceptible to BSE. If the firm agrees to use the material for swine feed only, FDA will track the material all the way through the supply chain from the processor to the farm to ensure that the feed is properly monitored and used only as feed for pigs.
    To protect the U.S. against BSE, FDA works to keep certain mammalian protein out of animal feed for cattle and other ruminant animals. FDA established its animal feed rule in 1997 after the BSE epidemic in the U.K. showed that the disease spreads by feeding infected ruminant protein to cattle.
    Under the current regulation, the material from this Texas cow is not allowed in feed for cattle or other ruminant animals. FDA’s action specifying that the material go only into swine feed means also that it will not be fed to poultry.
    FDA is committed to protecting the U.S. from BSE and collaborates closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on all BSE issues. The animal feed rule provides crucial protection against the spread of BSE, but it is only one of several such firewalls. FDA will soon be improving the animal feed rule, to make this strong system even stronger.
    #
    http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2004/ucm108292.htm
    SEE FULL TEXT OF ALL THIS HERE ;
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/05/update-from-aphis-regarding-detection.html
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
    “In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it. “
    Dr. Raymond Sir, it is not vCJD we will find here from the atypical TSE growing in the many different species here in the USA and North America. Science that has been out for several years now shows that some cases of sporadic CJD can be linked to the atypical BSE. In fact Sir, atypical Scrapie shows many similarities with human TSE prion disease. please see ;
    Thursday, August 12, 2010
    Seven main threats for the future linked to prions
    First threat
    The TSE road map defining the evolution of European policy for protection against prion diseases is based on a certain numbers of hypotheses some of which may turn out to be erroneous. In particular, a form of BSE (called atypical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), recently identified by systematic testing in aged cattle without clinical signs, may be the origin of classical BSE and thus potentially constitute a reservoir, which may be impossible to eradicate if a sporadic origin is confirmed. ***Also, a link is suspected between atypical BSE and some apparently sporadic cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. These atypical BSE cases constitute an unforeseen first threat that could sharply modify the European approach to prion diseases.
    Second threat
    snip…
    http://www.neuroprion.org/en/np-neuroprion.html
    EFSA Journal 2011 The European Response to BSE: A Success Story
    This is an interesting editorial about the Mad Cow Disease debacle, and it’s ramifications that will continue to play out for decades to come ;
    Monday, October 10, 2011
    EFSA Journal 2011 The European Response to BSE: A Success Story
    snip…
    EFSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recently delivered a scientific opinion on any possible epidemiological or molecular association between TSEs in animals and humans (EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) and ECDC, 2011). This opinion confirmed Classical BSE prions as the only TSE agents demonstrated to be zoonotic so far but the possibility that a small proportion of human cases so far classified as “sporadic” CJD are of zoonotic origin could not be excluded. Moreover, transmission experiments to non-human primates suggest that some TSE agents in addition to Classical BSE prions in cattle (namely L-type Atypical BSE, Classical BSE in sheep, transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) and chronic wasting disease (CWD) agents) might have zoonotic potential.
    snip…
    http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/e991.htm?emt=1
    http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/e991.pdf
    see follow-up here about North America BSE Mad Cow TSE prion risk factors, and the ever emerging strains of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy in many species here in the USA, including humans ;
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2011/10/efsa-journal-2011-european-response-to.html
    Saturday, May 26, 2012
    Are USDA assurances on mad cow case ‘gross oversimplification’?
    SNIP…
    What irks many scientists is the USDA’s April 25 statement that the rare disease is “not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.”
    The USDA’s conclusion is a “gross oversimplification,” said Dr. Paul Brown, one of the world’s experts on this type of disease who retired recently from the National Institutes of Health. “(The agency) has no foundation on which to base that statement.”
    “We can’t say it’s not feed related,” agreed Dr. Linda Detwiler, an official with the USDA during the Clinton Administration now at Mississippi State.
    In the May 1 email to me, USDA’s Cole backed off a bit. “No one knows the origins of atypical cases of BSE,” she said
    The argument about feed is critical because if feed is the cause, not a spontaneous mutation, the California cow could be part of a larger outbreak.
    SNIP…
    http://bseusa.blogspot.com/2012/05/are-usda-assurances-on-mad-cow-case.html
    Monday, August 6, 2012
    TAFS BSE in USA August 6, 2012
    BSE in USA
    http://bseusa.blogspot.com/2012/08/tafs-bse-in-usa-august-6-2012.html
    Monday, August 06, 2012
    Atypical neuropathological sCJD-MM phenotype with abundant white matter Kuru-type plaques sparing the cerebellar cortex
    http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2012/08/atypical-neuropathological-scjd-mm.html
    Wednesday, August 01, 2012
    Behavioural and Psychiatric Features of the Human Prion Diseases: Experience in 368 Prospectively Studied Patients
    http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2012/08/behavioural-and-psychiatric-features-of.html
    Tuesday, June 26, 2012
    Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease Human TSE report update North America, Canada, Mexico, and USDA PRION UNIT as of May 18, 2012
    type determination pending Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (tdpCJD), is on the rise in Canada and the USA
    http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2012/06/creutzfeldt-jakob-disease-human-tse.html
    Friday, August 24, 2012
    Iatrogenic prion diseases in humans: an update
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/iatrogenic-prion-diseases-in-humans.html
    Monday, July 23, 2012
    The National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center July 2012
    http://prionunitusaupdate2008.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-national-prion-disease-pathology.html
    Monday, August 20, 2012
    CASE REPORTS CREUTZFELDT-JAKOB DISEASE: AN UNDER-RECOGNIZED CAUSE OF DEMENTIA
    http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2012/08/case-reports-creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.html
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
    In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it.
    Dr. Raymond Sir, I disagree with you, I think that you (USDA et al) could do much better.
    I think our children and the consumer deserves better, and I don’t care how much taxes AND BSE TSE TESTING, it takes to make our food safe. …
    layperson
    I lost my mother to the Heidenhain Variant of Creutzfeldt Jakob disease confirmed on December 14, 1997.
    my neighbor lost his mother exactly one year previously to the sporadic CJD strains confirmed, on December 14, 1996.
    sporadic Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease is NOT a single strain, but multiple strains (with new type pending classifications CJD, of unknown origin, in young and old in the USA),
    with route and source unknown to date.
    just made a promise, all facts should be presented, not just the industry fed political science fed facts. …
    kind regards,
    terry
    Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
    P.O. Box 42
    Bacliff, Texas USA 77518
    flounder9@verizon.net

  • http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2012/08/central-valley-meat-company-usda-did.html Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

    Monday, August 27, 2012
    Central Valley Meat Company: USDA Did its Job, OK?
    Opinion & Contributed Articles
    by Dr. Richard Raymond | Aug 27, 2012 Opinion
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008)
    snip…
    In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it. There are many interlocking steps to keep us safe, including:
    1. The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.
    2. The removal of Specified Risk Materials in the slaughter facilities under the continuous and watchful eyes of FSIS Inspectors to protect human health.
    3. The observation by the PHVs of animals in motion.
    4. No downers or non-ambulatory cattle allowed in the food chain, and
    5. The USDA’s ongoing surveillance of animals at high risk for BSE, assuring us that the exposure risk is almost nil.
    http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/08/central-valley-meat-company-usda-did-its-job-ok/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=120827
    OPINION REBUTTAL Terry
    Greetings,
    Well Dr. Raymond, since you called me out, I must respond Sir.
    Yes, our children health and safety mean more to me than taxes.
    Indeed I would like to comment on some of your fallacies Dr. Raymond.
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
    snip…
    see Terry full text rebuttal on Dr. Raymond and the USDA BSE surveillance, SRM, and feed ban and all the fallacies there from ;
    Monday, August 27, 2012
    Central Valley Meat Company: USDA Did its Job, OK?
    Opinion & Contributed Articles
    by Dr. Richard Raymond | Aug 27, 2012 Opinion
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008)
    http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2012/08/central-valley-meat-company-usda-did.html

  • Jethro

    Clever distraction, Doc Raymond, baiting Terry to stop by and smother this thread with his voluminous BSE crap. I suppose you think that givesyou and your beloved USDA needed cover to slip out of the bright light of well deserved scrutiny?
    Your cute political stunt only amplifies the stench of USDA’s latest evacuation of chickensh!t in the face of anti-farm terrorists. Your beloved extremists may have you by the jewels but they do not have the market cornered on outrage or tenacity. We shall see what we shall see regarding the value of USDA in upcoming policy and budgeting. It isn’t in the nature of farmers to keep a kicking cow or a biting dog. Besides, we are in desperate need of Federal cost cutting and USDA is an easy mark, ripe for plucking. We will be national heroes (except among bureaucratic hogs at the trough) when we nimbly trim most of USDA from the budget. One more obstacle to business and prosperity will be eliminated.
    This isn’t over. It is just beginning Doc.

  • Jade

    Shelley,
    You are correct in stating that most people in the animal welfare movement are doing nothing more than attempting to stop cruelty when it comes to livestock practices. However, the author was clearly talking about animal RIGHTS groups, which will go to extreme lengths to prove a point. Animal welfare organizations have a much different agenda than animal rights organizations. I have absolutely no respect for the HSUS or PETA, and if you saw earlier, the name of the animal rights group that released the video is Compassion Without Killing. I would have to say they are against animal consumption due to the “without killing” part of the name, but that is an assumption. In no way am I condoning what happend at the plant.. I think it is absolutely horrifying and the plant should suffer the consequences, and the employees commiting the crime should be terminated. However, I have no tolerance for animal rights groups that exist simply to ruin the reputation of and bring down animal processors/growers.

  • http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2012/08/central-valley-meat-company-usda-did.html Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

    re-jethro
    Jethro
    08/27/2012
    12:05PM
    say there jethro,
    Farmers are National Heros.
    Farmers were that before the teaparty.
    Farmers will be that, after the teaparty.
    Finally, TSE prions know no borders, TSE prions know no age groups, TSE prions know no political party.
    sadly, it is a political and industry fed disease $$$
    and it is mutating, jethro’s post just proved it. …
    with sad regards,
    terry

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Jethro, I haven’t read through all that Terry provided, but I respect people who take time to write a thorough reply.
    Jade, I would call PETA an “animal rights” group, but HSUS is most definitely an animal welfare group. No animal rights group would have agreed to a hen colony system compromise with the egg industry, which HSUS did.
    And frankly, does it matter?
    The organization filmed obvious acts of inhumane treatment of cows, and then took the evidence to the USDA. The USDA then immediately acted.
    In addition, the group published its undercover investigations, and companies who bought meat from Central Valley, stopped doing so.
    In the end, does it matter how the group terms itself, because the end result is (we hope) significant improvements in handling of the cows at the plant.
    Now, some people may view the video and decide not to eat beef. Or buy dairy products. Others, though, may continue, but look more closely at the suppliers at the products. At a minimum, we hope things improve at this plant. And that’s what matters.

  • http://Meatingplace.com Dr. Richard Raymond

    Wowser, only a blog on raw milk could stir up more vitriol and I was only stating the facts behind USDA”s action.
    Shelly, if you go to the COK web sight, the second sentence you will read is this:
    “COK focuses on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promotes vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world, both for humans and nonhumans.”
    So please explain your first response by saying I had lost all creditibility by calling a spade a spade?
    And just so you know, the USDA will not be fining Central Valley because the law prohibits them from doing so. I know, because every year we went to the Approps committee with our budget and requested authority to fine plants for certain circumstances and every year we were denied. Again, just trying to point out the facts so people can make informed decisions and comments.
    As for the comment that USDA is supposed to promote Ag, and therefore this action should get people fired? As I tried to explain, they just followed the law. And besides promoting ag, they promote and protect animal, plant and human health, run the US Forest Service, direct food stamps and school lunches to name a few other items of business for the USDA.
    Shelly, where do I “imply” the video was ‘staged”? I called is disgusting and despicable, but I meant the footage, not the technique.
    I have no problems with vegans, everyone should have a choice. What I have a problem with is when others try to impose their beliefs on me by driving up the cost of meat. Oh, and yes, perfectly good meat is destroyed because the Obama Administration banned all non-ambulatory cattle, not just old culled dairy cows. 20 month old, grain fed steers break legs and rupture tendons on ice and slippery surfaces. We use to be able to eat them, now they are taken to rendering and that, my friends, is a waste and drives up costs at the grocery stores.
    The animal rights activists are winning, and we are helping them with inhumane practices.
    BTW, USDA shuttered 12 plants in 1997, the year before Hallmark, for inhumane handling observed by FSIS employees. They just didn’t send the videos to the Washington Post and NY Times.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    “Undercover agents working at slaughter plants as undercover agents for the Humane Society of the United States (Hallmark/Westland) and Compassion Over Killing (CVM) used hidden cameras to film egregious inhumane handling of cows.
    Both animal rights groups have an agenda that includes preventing the killing of animals for human consumption. This agenda can be moved forward with disgustingly shocking videos, and by driving the cost of meat up by necessitating changes in the slaughter and fabricating processes.”
    Both animal rights groups have an agenda?
    You’re too quick to dismiss animal welfare activities, or to lump them all the same. This undermined your credibility.
    As for the following statement:
    ‘Shelly, where do I “imply” the video was ‘staged”? I called is disgusting and despicable, but I meant the footage, not the technique.’
    I looked through your post and I thought I remembered reading something about the video shown online was only a few minutes, and we don’t know what the other video had.
    And there was another statement, about throwing away good meat, or something to that effect.
    In fact, your post seems to be different.
    Did you edit your writing after you published it? Not just added the response to us–but actually changed your original writing?

  • Jon

    That’s the Main problem with USDA isn’t it? The meat/produce/biotech/etc food industry insists USDA is there to promote their US Agribusiness — period. The foxes are very content to run the taxpayer-fed henhouse — through revolving doors and campaign contributions and other forms of legitimized corruption.
    But USDA — Really — is a Gov’t (of the people, by the people, for the people) Regulatory Agency charged with — protecting the public.
    What USDA needs is the power to create Agribusiness user fees and to heavily FINE these miscreant food corporations so that we the public aren’t subsidizing all these gluttonous foxes. Looks like there needs to be some house cleaning first…..

  • Cyndy

    “If a cause for the non-ambulatory condition could be determined, such as a fractured leg or ruptured tendon, the animal could be euthanized on the spot and then taken to the knock box.”
    OK, I’m confused about the above statement. The animal is euthanized on the spot and then taken to the knock box? Does this mean that this animal is still slaughtered for its meat? With the euthanizing drugs in the meat? Please clarify. Thanks!

  • doc raymond

    Nice try, Shelly, but the post has not been altered or doctored up.

  • minkpuppy

    Shelley,
    Perhaps you misread or misinterpreted some of the comments in the article? Please consider that rather than accusing Dr. Raymond of sneakily editing the article because he you called out. It costs you nothing to admit that maybe, just maybe, you were mistaken about what you thought you read this one time rather than becoming defensive and accusing the other person of lying. It doesn’t reflect well on you or your credibility when you do so.
    The article is exactly the same as the one I read yesterday, before Dr. Raymond responded to comments. I had decided I was done commenting on this issue because of the nastiness that’s being spewed by certain posters but I cannot stand by and let your comment go. My experience with Dr. Raymond is that he’s a straight shooter, always has been. People don’t always like what he says but he says what needs to be said. He has nothing to gain by changing what he wrote and pretending he didn’t.
    ***For the record, before the haters jump on my butt, I hide my identity for a reason. I don’t feel like getting fired over stating my opinion on my own time if it disagrees with FSIS policy and practice. It’s easier to just use a nickname than to constantly state that I don’t represent FSIS on here. The people that need to know my identity already do and I correspond with them through emails regularly.***
    This video may not have been staged but it was highly edited. Some elements were certainly embellished in the narration to make it appear that the cows were actually still alive when they were hoisted up on the chain when they were clearly dead due to the slack tongues and necks. The hot shots to the face, standing on the muzzle, forcing cows to stand and multiple shots to the head were not staged and needed to be dealt with.
    I have no problem with whistleblowers calling attention to abuses as long as they stick to the actual abuses and don’t misrepresent normal death responses. Posting video of normal post-stun kicking and twitching dead cow with an obviously slack neck and tongue while claiming the cow is still alive is a blatant falsehood and does nothing to help people understand the actual kill process.
    Death is never a pretty sight but as horrible as it is, let’s not confuse it with abusive treatment. It’s normal to be disturbed by it even when it’s done correctly. I worry about the people that aren’t bothered by it because they are the ones that end up abusing animals and people.
    As far as the cows in the COK video are concerned, many of them could not walk due to udders horribly swollen with milk because they hadn’t been milked in at least 24 hours. High producing cows have to be milked at least 3x a day or they are miserable. It’s horribly inhumane to do that to a cow just because she’s going to the kill plant. The kill plant isn’t going to milk her and neither is the sale barn. The farmers should have the decency to euthanize the cow at the farm if she’s already suffering from illness or injury. Don’t compound it by making her carry around a huge, unmilked udder.
    For a look at slaughter done properly, see http://www.animalhandling.org/ht/d/sp/i/80622/pid/80622. It accurately depicts the post-stunning reponse of the cows that is often portrayed as abuse by animal rights videos and explains how to determine if the cow is dead or not.

  • minkpuppy

    Cyndy,
    The animals are not euthanized with drugs. They are euthanized with a hand-held captive bolt stunner applied to the skull. The bolt destroys the brain instantaneously. Drugs are never used to euthanize animals at slaughter plants.

  • Jade

    It does make a huge difference wether or not an organization deems itself animal rights or animal welfare. One is simply for the welfare of the animals, while animal rights groups believe animals have the right to live their lives without any human interference. Animal rights groups, HSUS included, want to abolish agriciulture. They go so far as to believe that we should not keep any domesticated animals because we are controlling them against their will, and god forbid we should do anything like ride a horse or keep chickens in the back yard for eggs, or keep a goat for milk. Again, I stress that what happened at this plant is unacceptable, but I swear these animal rights activists are going to be the demise of agriculture, even organic, natural, or sustainable agriculture.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    I checked my feed reader, and I can’t tell if the writing is edited or not. But I could find sentences that led to what I think I may have been responding to. So apologies for questioning whether the text was edited or not.
    I need to remember to copy text I’m replying to when I write a comment.
    Anyway, to address your comment about staged video, you wrote the following
    “They sometimes are sick, they always are old, and they often lay down to rest and refuse to get up. And here lies the opportunity for video if the plant is not impeccable in its handling of these non-ambulatory or “downer” animals.”
    You imply that the undercover investigator is misrepresenting what’s happening in the plant–or that what is filmed is somehow not as bad as it seems. I don’t think anyone could misrepresent what was shown in the videos for Central Valley Meat.
    I could have sworn there was something about unfairly closing plants, but that could have been comments to another of the writings on this event. Anyway, you also state, in your comment
    “I have no problems with vegans, everyone should have a choice. What I have a problem with is when others try to impose their beliefs on me by driving up the cost of meat. Oh, and yes, perfectly good meat is destroyed because the Obama Administration banned all non-ambulatory cattle, not just old culled dairy cows. 20 month old, grain fed steers break legs and rupture tendons on ice and slippery surfaces. We use to be able to eat them, now they are taken to rendering and that, my friends, is a waste and drives up costs at the grocery stores..”
    The concern about non-ambulatory cows is based on fears of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, not based on humane handling concerns.
    Though humane handling and food safety frequently go hand in hand, in this case, the ruling was based purely on food safety issues.
    There’s a simple solution for milk farmers: don’t wait until cows are at death’s door to send off to slaughter. In addition, the farmers could rest the cow a few weeks, in which case it can handle the transport without collapse.
    Regardless, if a cow is sick, it should not go into the food system.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    MinkPuppy, I don’t need your lecture.
    I could not find the text I thought I had responded to. It made it difficult to defend what I wrote in the first comment when I could’t find the text.
    I asked if the text had been edited. It isn’t unusual for writers to edit their text, though usually they do note when the do.
    Regardless, I apologized for traducing doc raymond’s honor.
    Having said that, doc raymond is a big boy, I’m a big girl, we’ll work it out between us–as doc raymond demonstrated.

  • R.P.

    What a pathetic cluster.
    Here we have smug bureaucrats and hysterical terrorists, timid patriots and belligerent scabs all stubbornly wrestling in their own ideological excrement. Meanwhile, a chickensh!t USDA serves the cause of extreme animal rights terrorists, capriciously shuttering a legitimate business AND directly curtailing their trade. Shades of more and more damage to be doled out to our food system, no doubt.
    USDA has been infiltrated by anti-agriculture activist scabs. They corrupt our inspection service, our social services, our policy making.
    Certainly there remain a few tried and true USDA employees but they are overwhelmed and can no longer craft intelligent rational policy. We cannot discern the good guys from the skulking activist scabs so we must purge all of them before it is too late for everyone.
    There’s a new farm bill to be crafted. Let’s make it clear to congress our obsolete compromised USDA no longer supports the modern American agriculture that is so essential to our national security. Begin defunding USDA right away. Before the skunks decimate the henhouse irrevocably. Throw the creepy saboteurs out, all of them without exception, there is nothing to lose by it and everything to gain. It would be the first fiscally responsible move Congress has made in years.

  • Barbara Holman

    “If you want to get the public’s attention using video, you want to go to a facility that slaughters old dairy cows and then sells the meat to the NSLP. As opposed to 20-30 month old steers that have been content to eat grain in a feedlot, these cows are often 10-12 years of age, and are often not in good enough shape to handle a ride of even a few miles in hot weather.”
    IOW, these animals have been so abused and mistreated that they must be further abused and mistreated.
    Every time one of these undercover videos is made public, the so-called “food animal” industry tries to get us to believe that its an isolated incident. There is no reason to believe that’s the case. In fact, just the opposite is made clear every time we see this mind-numbing cruelty.
    Don’t blame the messenger, as this op/ed does. Blame the industry for wanting bigger and bigger profits which is partially the reason for the cruelty – the workers cannot turn off the assembly line because it costs the company money.
    This op/ed is very self-serving and defensive. He wants to believe the animals are treated well and its those bag ole animal rights people who are the real problem.
    The real problem is that the consumer willingly believes these lies. They continue to buy and eat diseased “food” even though they know it will contribute to their own deaths from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and the list goes on and on.
    Go ahead and eat chunks of charred corpse but don’t pretend you don’t the truth behind how it came to be on your plate.

  • Minkpuppy

    Shelley,
    We all let our mouths and fingers get the better of us at times. It’s not easy to tell the context when you’re reading a post or email. I apologize if you took offense.
    I’m getting more than a bit aggravated with this whole fiasco and will defend my colleagues tooth and nail without regrets or apologies. At first, I was outraged as everyone else but after gather the information and seeing the video, I realized I have no place bashing the inspectors at CVM. I’ve worked in the kill plants and I know what they have to deal with. I forgot where I came from and I apologize to the inspectors at CVM for jumping on the bandwagon and assuming they weren’t doing their jobs. Sometimes we get so accustomed to what we always see that we miss what we should be seeing.
    I see this fiasco as more of a failing of the meat industry and FSIS management as a whole because they have not been letting everyone know what we do that is good and right. The AMI “glass walls” project is a step in the right direction but that video should have been out years ago.
    Putting a face on the inspection force would also help tremendously. Instead we have to hide behind nicknames for fear of saying something that D.C. doesn’t like or hasn’t “authorized” which would result in a witch hunt for our jobs and livelihood. FSIS needs to get its head out of its butt and let inspectors talk about what we do and how we do it so people know that we are out there protecting them.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    I understand, MinkPuppy. You and I agree more often than not.
    I must confess I was feeling very irritated because I couldn’t find text I remembered. However, I should have assumed I had a brain fart, rather than the text was edited.
    (It doesn’t help that, in another web site, in a thread related to the HSUS/Ringling Brothers RICO case, Center for Consumer Freedom people were marking every one of my comments as spam. Still, that was that site, this site is different.)
    As for what you’re saying, I happen to believe the “boots on the ground” do a tough job with little thanks. I’ve seen this with the USDA APHIS AWA inspectors, where they’ve actually been threatened by backwoods red necks here in Missouri. I’m currently working on one story and my favorite little graphic for the story is a snapshot of an envelope with a threat on it–I just can’t tell if the threat is to the inspectors, the USDA, or the entire country.
    (I love the FOIA–you get so much good material for stories.)
    I see in these posts, here at FSN (and elsewhere), industry hacks who either blame the undercover agents (as Animal Rights Extremists/Terrorists), or who blame the (Big Government Evil) USDA–anything, other than the company who allowed such egregious inhumane handling to continue.
    We’ll never do better as long as these games are played. We definitely won’t have good discussions while these games are played.
    As I said, MinkPuppy, we agree more often than not.

  • http://www.teamcleaningsolutions.com/industries/industrial-cleaning.php Stephanie Thomas

    I’m hearing some pretty strong opinions on this one. I am definitely opposed to animal cruelty. Everything else I have an opinion on has already been said so i’ll save some time and just say amen to that.

  • BB

    I too am opposed to animal cruelty. And especially opposed to those who demagogue it for profit, like HSUS.