A New Jersey company involved in the veal and lamb business for more than 65 years was forced to shut down last Friday when USDA inspectors left the building because of alleged inhumane practices going on inside.
At least two egregious violations of federal humane handling requirements documented on a video obtained by the Humane Society of the United States (HBUS) were enough for USDA to shut down the Catelli Brothers, Inc., veal slaughter plant in Shrewsbury, NJ.
Catelli Brothers, headquartered in Collingswood, NJ, outside Philadelphia, is one of the largest veal and lamb producers in the country. After being provided with a video copy and a complaint from HSUS, USDA opted to suspend the company’s operations by removing all federal meat inspectors from the slaughterhouse.
HSUS praised USDA’s action in a statement issued Monday.
“Downed calves are still suffering the sort of appalling abuses that we exposed in 2009 at another calf slaughter plant in Vermont,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. “We commend USDA for taking action to shut down the operation at Catelli Brothers, but it’s long past time to close the loophole in the downed animal rule that perpetuates continuing cruelty to young calves.”
Tony Catelli, CEO and president of the NJ company, said animal abuse of any kind is “unacceptable,” and that company policy strictly prohibits processing of any downed calves. He said the company has hired a humane handling expert and will cooperative with investigators.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said the length of the suspension would depend upon how quickly the company responds to the abuses depicted in the video. Catelli Brothers will have to document what went wrong and how it came about and specific actions it will take to make sure the abuses do not happen in the future.
The gruesome video shows one calf, bleeding from having its neck slit, still remains conscious while being shot several times with a stun gun that is supposed to humanely kill with one shot. A “downer” calf that cannot walk is shown being dragged.
Such instances appear to be clear violations of USDA’s rules for humane slaughter of animals for human consumptions.
Bernie Rollin, distinguished professor of animal science at Colorado State University, wrote after watching the video at HSUS’s request, that “of all the atrocity videos I have viewed, the current video of the slaughterhouse at Catelli Brothers must be ranked among the three worst.” He called for the plant to be “closed down immediately.”
In addition to serving domestic markets, Catelli Brothers is approved for export to several foreign counties, according to USDA records. It employs about 250 people.© Food Safety News