Let me preface this article by saying that Jane and I became vegans for health reasons. Over the course of learning about the benefits of a vegan diet, we've read literature on factory farming. And, as with most people, the more we read, the more appalled we become.
Today, watching our local CBS news affiliate, we were very disturbed by a story that was aired on animal cruelty at the Hallmark Meat Packing Company, a slaughterhouse in Chino, California. The Humane Society surreptitiously recorded the abuse of sick and injured cows, behavior designed to get the cows to walk to the slaughterhouse.
Federal and California laws have prohibited the slaughter of "downer" cattle since 1989. The term "downer" is applied to those cows that cannot stand or walk. Cattle categorized as "downer" are not allowed to enter the human food supply. This is intended to prevent both animal cruelty and the consumption of meat from unhealthy animals. "Downer" cattle are at heightened risk for infections ranging from mad cow disease, to E. coli, to salmonella.
The meat processed at Hallmark is distributed by Westland Meat Co., also based in Chino, California. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Westland sold 27 million pounds of frozen meat last year to federal food and nutrition programs, including those that furnish meals to the poor and elderly across 36 states. Westland is also a major supplier of beef to the federal school lunch program.
The Humane Society is calling for quick action from our government to guarantee the most basic level of humane treatment for farm animals and to protect Americans from potentially dangerous food.
The two employees caught abusing cattle on the Humane Society video have been fired, and their supervisor suspended. The USDA is investigating potential violations of state and federal laws, and has indefinitely suspended Westland's participation in federal food and nutrition programs.
The video below is a segment of the footage that was shot by a Hallmark Meat Packing employee who was working undercover for the Humane Society in the fall of 2007. Warning: Do not watch the video below if you are at all squeamish.
This is just another one of the growing number of reasons why we don't eat meat these days.
For additional information on this video see:
- US Department of Agriculture-- Press Release
- Westland Meat Company -- Press Release
- CBS Evening News
- Associated Press