Food safety was never at risk at Central Valley Meat, which was shut down for a week for inhumane treatment of animals.
But USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has concluded that no downer cows entered the food supply, meaning incidents of inhumane treatment did not result in any food safety violations.
It brought potentially devastating losses to Central Valley Meat, with customers including USDA, Costco, McDonald’s and In-N-Out Burger.
But the concern about downer cattle entering the food supply is apparently unfounded.
“The USDA team conducting the Central Valley Meat investigation has concluded there is no evidence to support the allegation that a downer cow was slaughtered and entered the food supply, and that no food safety violation occurred as a result,” FSIS Administrator Al Almanza told Meatingplace, the industry news service.
Central Valley Meat said it is ready to resume full operations. It reopened with more video surveillance cameras installed, more training for those employees stunning animals and tighter rules for handling animals that become non-ambulatory while in transit from farm to plant.
FSIS took what it said was “aggressive action” to investigate the incident involving “evidence of inhumane treatment of cattle.” The agency received a copy of the undercover video from the animal right groups that took it.
With no downer cows entering the food supply, USDA did not demand the recall of any meat. By comparison, the 2008 animal cruelty investigation at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. in Chino, CA brought the one of the largest recalls in history — 143 million pounds of beef — because downer cows has entered the food supply.
Valley Meat Packing Co. did, at least temporarily, lose the business of Costco, In-N-Out Burgers, McDonald’s and USDA. In reopening the company said it was going to improve monitoring and deploy more third-party audits of its operations.© Food Safety News