FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is Your Child Eating Downer Cows?

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

It has been over four years since the public was horrified and sickened to watch dying dairy cows moved with pitchforks into the slaughter line to make meat for the national school lunch program.  By law animals must walk under their own steam to slaughter to prevent “sick” animal from getting in the food supply.

Though the dairy slaughter facility in Chino, CA, Westland/Hallmark Meat Company, was shut down and the beef recalled in the largest meat recall in US history, yesterday’s suspension of Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, CA for similar abuses against sick and dying cows, recorded by Compassion Over Killing, shows that little has changed.

The video in 2008, filmed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) showed “cull” cows in metabolic collapse and unable to walk after providing the nation’s milk on dairy farms. Their sad, sacked carcasses only fetch $400 dollars at such cull slaughterhouses and the mechanisms used to make them walk to slaughter during their final moments seem the final insult.

Most cheap and ground beef such as found at fast food outlets and in hamburgers is from such dairy cows who have already done their duty on dairy farms. Their meat is also full of veterinary drugs to keep them alive and their milk flowing under extreme conditions. Beef that is not from such cows is mostly only found in steaks and better beef cuts.

“Why don’t you have a system that uncovers this inhumane treatment of animals?” Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) asked USDA officials during congressional hearings after the Westland/Hallmark scandal.  And when Ken Peterson, assistant administrator of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service told the press that the cows they saw were probably being moved “out of the slaughter chain” and not into the slaughter chain, or that they had had accidents (right), Miriam Falco of CNN Medical News was skeptical. “You’re saying that those [downers] never would have passed inspection anyway. But we see video of them going into the facility. So at what point does your inspection pick up on this?” she asked.

After agriculture secretary, Ed Schafer, who had assumed his post just days earlier, vowed that the USDA would conduct its own investigation since he felt the video amounted to only allegations, Bill Tomson of Dow Jones News Wire said, “Do you actually expect to go down there and ask them if they were doing anything illegal, and people to say, well, yes, we were?” Andy Dworkin of the Oregonian also remarked on the farce of a federal inspection after the fact. How can inspectors observe slaughter activity and “be discreet” when “all the workers know who they are?” he asked.

“It seems like maybe the folks had outsmarted the inspection system,” observed Steve Cornet with Beef Today. “Is this a system that’s . . . easily circumvented?” Other beef industry representatives were also appalled at the state of the dairy cattle. “We just don’t see that out here in beef country,” said Steve Hilker, a cattle hauler from Cimarron, KS, at hearings. “Around here, a ‘downer’ cow in the feed yard is one that’s got a leg issue–that’s had something happen to them, like stepping on a rock or in a crack, something like that.”

Records soon revealed that Westland/Hallmark was not new to authorities but a repeat offender–cited by the USDA in 2005 for “too much electric prodding causing animals to get more excited while being driven towards [the kill] box.” Will the same be discovered about Central Valley Meat Co.?

After the school lunch video, the Los Angeles Times said what the public and many in the press were thinking: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has 7,800 pairs of eyes scrutinizing 6,200 slaughterhouses and food processors across the nation. But in the end, it took an undercover operation by an animal rights group to reveal that beef from ill and abused cattle had entered the human food supply.” It could say the same thing today.

Martha Rosenberg’s is an investigative health reporter. Her first book,  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, has just been released by Prometheus books.

COMING IN SEPTEMBER

A Special Memorial Issue of CounterPunch

Featuring recollections of Alexander Cockburn from Jeffrey St. Clair, Peter Linebaugh, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Mike Whitney, Doug Peacock, Perry Anderson, Becky Grant, Dennis Kucinich, Michael Neumann, Susannah Hecht, P. Sainath, Ben Tripp, Alison Weir, James Ridgeway, JoAnn Wypijewski, John Strausbaugh, Pierre Sprey, Carolyn Cooke, Conn Hallinan, James Wolcott, Laura Flanders, Ken Silverstein, Tariq Ali and many others …

Subscribe to CounterPunch Today to Reserve Your Copy

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail