| SACRAMENTO, Calif.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Aug 21 The U.S. Department
of Agriculture shut down a slaughterhouse in California's
central agricultural heartland because of a graphic video
showing cows being mistreated during the slaughtering process,
officials and activists said on Tuesday.
The agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a
statement that it was conducting an investigation and that
inhumane treatment of animals was unacceptable.
"Upon confirming several humane handling violations, (the
Food Safety and Inspection Service) suspended operations at the
facility and is prepared to take further action as warranted by
the investigation," the statement said.
The plant was shut down on Sunday.
Video of the facility posted online by activist group
Compassion Over Killing, shows cows at the Central Valley Meat
Company flailing wildly as they are dragged by one leg on a
conveyor belt on their way to be slaughtered.
Video shows other lame, sick former dairy cows being shot in
the head multiple times and struggling before they die. In one
portion of the video, a worker stands on a cow's nostrils to
kill it after the cow is shot in the head.
The video also shows cows that appear to have difficulty
standing being electrically prodded to walk on their way to
slaughter. The USDA does not allow cows that cannot stand on
their own to enter the food supply.
The farm, based 30 miles (48 km) south of Fresno in rural
Hanford, supplies meat to the National School Lunch Program,
according to the activist group.
California-based fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger suspended
its relationship with the farm after hearing of the
investigation, the activist group said. In-N-Out did not
immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment.
Central Valley Meat Company said in a statement emailed to
Reuters that it was "extremely disturbed" to find it was
suspended because of a third-party video, but noted it would
cooperate fully with the USDA investigation.
"We take these allegations seriously and we are committed to
correcting any problems identified on the video as quickly as we
can," the company said, adding that it had retained an outside
animal welfare expert to conduct an internal investigation.
An undercover activist shot the video at the farm in June
and July, the animal rights group said.
In 2008, the Humane Society of the United States captured
employees of a California meatpacking plant in Chino torturing
cattle and processing the unfit animals for human consumption in
a gruesome undercover videotape.
That video's release led to the record recall of nearly 143
million pounds (65 million kg) of meat by the Hallmark/Westland
Meat Packing Company.
(Reporting by Mary Slosson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and