Guidelines are nice, enforcement? Undercover video at Hormel Foods facility

An undercover video taken at one of the nation’s largest pork producers shows pigs being dragged across the floor, beaten with paddles, and sick to the point of immobility. By law, pigs are supposed to be rendered unconscious before being killed, but many are shown writhing in apparent pain while bleeding out, suggesting that they weren’t properly stunned. “That one was definitely alive,” a worker says.

an.welfareThe video also appears to show pigs with puss-filled abscesses being sent down the line. Others are covered in feces.

“If the USDA is around, they could shut us down,” says a worker, wearing a bright yellow apron, standing over the production line.

The graphic video — available on YouTube in an edited form — was covertly filmed by a contracted employee of Compassion Over Killing, a nonprofit animal rights group that claims to have infiltrated an Austin, Minn., facility run by Quality Pork Processors (QPP), a supplier of Hormel Foods, the maker of Spam and other popular processed meats. The group has turned over the 97-minute unedited video to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has raised serious concerns about the conditions at the QPP facility and pledged a thorough investigation. A reporter has also seen the full-length video provided by the group.

“The actions depicted in the video under review are appalling and completely unacceptable, and if we can verify the video’s authenticity, we will aggressively investigate the case and take appropriate action,” said USDA spokesman Adam Tarr, adding that the agency can’t comment definitively in the middle of the probe.

QPP, which has seen both the edited and unedited versions, says the edited film makes it look as though there were violations when, in fact, there were none.

“Early on, there may very well be contamination present in the process, but we have multiple interventions that ensure that it will not only be visually removed, but completely removed,” said Nate Jansen, who is the vice president of human resources and quality services at QPP. “Had it been allowed to show the entire sequence of these events, all of these hogs were all handled appropriately.”

To gain access to the QPP facility, the Compassion Over Killing contractor applied for five months for jobs at meat processing companies and was eventually hired at QPP. Compassion Over Killing requested the person’s name not be disclosed because he still works at QPP, but showed a pay stub indicating employment there. The person did not describe on his job applications his affiliation with the activist group.

“I don’t think you can look at the video along with the USDA guidelines and say that QPP is following the law,” said Ted Genoways, the author of “The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food,” and has seen the video but is not associated with the group. “This plant is the symbol of everything that is wrong with the meat industry.”

In particular, the video shines a light on a government-approved pilot program, known as the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), which allows processors like QPP to assume more responsibility over the inspection process.

The company is one of five pork processors participating in the HIMP program, which the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) first launched in the late 1990s. As part of the initiative, the government substantially changed the way it oversees meat production, more than doubling the number of safety checks (from 11 to 24) within a facility and reallocating government inspectors to focus more closely on food safety. The goal, as stated on the agency’s Web site, was to “produce a flexible, more efficient, fully integrated” system.

In the HIMP inspection model, three government inspectors are stationed on the production line, compared to the usual seven who oversee the handling of carcasses in the traditional system. In both, an additional offline inspector is free to move around. The reduction in government inspectors dedicated to checking hogs on the line has allowed the government to save money by reducing its inspection force. It has also allowed plants to increase their line speed — on average, participants in the pilot program process roughly 120 extra hogs per hour, according to the USDA.

The USDA speaks highly of the program, which it has repeatedly defended. “Obviously, we believe that the model is an appropriate one,” said Phil Derfler, the deputy administrator at FSIS. “That’s why we went ahead with the rule-making in order to adopt it — it’s an improvement on the traditional system.”

But Lisa Winebarger, who serves as a legal counsel to Compassion Over Killing and helped bring the investigation to the USDA, said QPP is violating those directives.

“I understand that QPP is denying any wrongdoing, but we can assure you that much of what we have documented are serious problems labeled as ‘egregious inhumane treatment’ and ‘egregious noncompliances'” by the government’s directives, she said.

30 sick: Church says, don’t talk about Salmonella

At least 30 people, including some who were admitted to area hospitals, were reported sick due to a salmonella outbreak after a community meal Sunday at a Parker County church.  

Speak-No-EvilChurch leaders are now asking members to keep details about the luncheon, as well as updates on the conditions of affected persons to themselves.

Youth Pastor Spencer Row said, “ At this time, we as church staff, believe it is in the church’s best interest to allow our conference to handle this situation. We have taken the necessary steps to provide assistance internally. We ask that you refrain from posting or sharing any further information about this situation, for the protection of our members and our church as a whole.

“Please continue to pray for everyone, and make known how much love we have for one another! It’s in times like these that the true strength of the church is revealed.”

Food safety morons.

$250K fine in Australia for fake ‘free range’ eggs

In addition to changing Prime Ministers every 12 months (bye-bye Tony dumb-dumb) it’s almost impossible to buy cage eggs, at least without enduring the stigmatizing stares of other shoppers.

darling.down.eggsBut are consumers getting what’s advertised?

Darling Downs Fresh Eggs must pay a $250,000 fine after the Federal Court ruled it had purposely mis-labelled its eggs as free range, in a case brought by the competition watchdog.

The court found that RL Adams Pty, the company behind the egg producer, engaged in misleading conduct and made misleading representations to consumers in labelling and promoting its eggs as `free range’ from December 2013 to October 2014.

The company admitted, in the course of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission investigation, that it had kept its hens confined to barns at all times, and kept doors shut so the chickens never had access to an outdoor range.

“It’s clearly misleading to claim your eggs are free range when the hens that laid the eggs didn’t roam freely outdoors,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

“People are willing to pay a premium for free range eggs which they believe meet ethical or welfare standards. Businesses should not be benefiting financially from misleading claims about farming practices,” he said.

The severity of the penalty was mitigated in part by Rl Adams’ co-operation with the ACCC investigation, said the court.

Popular China restaurant serves crayfish with bacteria, causes food poisoning

Bacteria has been detected in crayfish served by a restaurant which had been ordered to suspend operation after an outbreak of food poisoning earlier this month.

crayfishInspection reports showed that Vibrio parahemolyticus had been detected in food samples provided both by Zheng Wen Qi Crayfish Donburi restaurant and its customers, Yangpu District government said on Friday.

“Considering the restaurant staff’s nonstandard practices in dealing with the excessive quantity of food, the incident is deemed as a food poisoning case caused by food affected by Vibrio Parahemolyticus,” a district government notice said.

A number of diners suffered from diarrhea, stomach aches and vomiting after eating crayfish donburi — a dish of crayfish meat on a bed of rice — at the outlet. The restaurant was so popular before the accident that it was said to have served 1,300 portions of donburi on its second day of opening.

Aussie live export cattle being killed with sledgehammer in Vietnam caught on camera, prompts calls for ban

The Australian live animal export market makes a lot of money, but cannot be condoned, since refrigeration has existed since the late 1800s.

cow.sledgehammer.vietnam.may.15According to Australian media, shocking footage has emerged of live export Australian cattle being bludgeoned to death with sledgehammers in Vietnam.

Government authorities have been investigating reports of the sickening slaughter method since March, but Animals Australia said yesterday it was the first time photographic evidence had been made public.

Video obtained by the animal welfare group shows handlers in a Vietnamese abattoir repeatedly striking beef cattle over the head with a sledgehammer to subdue and kill them.

The hidden camera vision was captured late last month in a facility in northern Vietnam.

Animals Australia spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said Vietnam was currently the second-largest export market for Australian cattle, with 178,000 animals exported there in 2014.

“The industry has called what is happening in Vietnam ‘growing pains’,” Ms Chalk said.

“Most people would disagree. It’s horrific and preventable suffering.”

Animals Australia, the organisation which earlier this year helped expose the cruel practice of live-baiting within the greyhound industry, said video showing the sledgehammer slaughters was “so shocking and distressing that a decision has been taken to not publicly release it at this time.”

I’d barf too: Stench from rotting lamb carcasses at Detroit market makes reporter vomit

Steve Neavling of the Motor City Muckraker writes:

The stench was so foul that I vomited.

lamb.carcass.detroitA dumpster at the Eastern Market was brimming with scores of rotting lamb carcasses Sunday afternoon, plainly visible to motorists along Gratiot Avenue in what is a clear violation of state law and a risk to public health. The Bodies of Dead Animals Act of 1982 requires carcasses to be burned, buried or passed off to a licensed processor within 24 hours of being slaughtered.

Eastern MarketWitnesses said the dumpster has been full of lamb carcasses for several weeks – or longer – but it’s unclear how often they are being picked up. Images from Google Maps appear to show the dumpster full of animal carcasses in October 2014.

Walk the talk: Role of animal husbandry, food safety, MC officials criticized in India

The role of officials of the Animal Husbandry Department, Food Safety Standard (FSS) and Municipal Corporation (MC) is under the scanner for giving a free run to a Shoghi-based private slaughterhouse. Two recent joint inspections during the bird flu scare has exposed that the slaughterhouse is not being run as per FSS norms as reports have pointed out blatant shortcomings there.

2015_2$largeimg08_Feb_2015_224402323The six-member team’s report of the slaughterhouse, run by the Goels Food World, Shoghi, which is with The Tribune, revealed that the slaughterhouse was compromising on health and hygiene as 20-30 dead birds were lying on the dirty floor. Also, the slaughterhouse had no rendering facility.

Besides, the staff used no protecting gears and the effluent treatment facility was non-functional. It had no veterinarian to conduct the ante-mortem and post-mortem of the birds and cull the dead or unfit birds, the inspection revealed. Though the slaughterhouse was being run since 2006, the unit was registered as a food technology unit.

The inspection was carried out on August 6, 2014, and followed by another inspection on December 27, which found similar shortcomings.

The report also exposed the paperwork being done by the government agencies. The six-member team included officials from the Animal Husbandry Department, MC, veterinary officers, Pollution Control Board, but no official from the Directorate of Health and the FSS was involved.

Neither the MC-run slaughterhouse here nor the private slaughterhouse was quarantined for bird flu, as mandated under the FSS rules and WHO norms for bird and swine flus, revealed health experts.

The Municipal Commissioner, Shimla, said they had issued a notice to the private operator to stop the unethical practice of selling uncertified meat in the municipal limits after the joint inspection report pointed out the shortcomings at the slaughterhouse. “We have set up a modern slaughterhouse and monitor it daily but we cannot check the private one directly as it falls outside the limits of the corporation,” he added.

Couple kicked out of Wisconsin McDonald’s for bringing in kangaroo

On Friday, Diana and Larry Moyer brought one of their five pet kangaroos to a McDonald’s in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, prompting a customer to call the police, reports WISN.

kangaroo-800“He’s just a little guy, but you can touch him and pet him,” Larry says of Jimmy the kangaroo.

The couple often brings the smaller marsupial with them on errands to keep Diana, who is battling cancer, company. Jimmy isn’t a licensed service animal, but the kangaroo is a therapy pet.

The Moyers – who’ve owned kangaroos for five years – say the animals often turn heads in public, but rarely do they cause problems, so the couple was shocked when a customer at McDonald’s felt the need to call the police and complain.

Since kangaroos are not protected by disability laws, the Moyers and Jimmy were asked to leave by the restaurant. The group left without incident at the same time authorities arrived at the scene.

Vietnam buries thousands of cats smuggled for restaurants

Vietnamese authorities have buried thousands of cats, many apparently still alive, that were seized after being smuggled in a truck from China for restaurants, a police officer said Wednesday. meat is easily available in some restaurants in Vietnam, especially in the north near the Chinese border, even though the government in 1998 ordered such restaurants closed and banned the trade of cats in an effort to encourage ownership and help keep the country’s rat population under control.

The cats that were buried were dealt with in accordance with the law because they posed an environmental and health risk, said the police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He confirmed that live cats were buried but was uncertain how many.

Police last week had stopped the truck carrying 3 tons of cats in cramped bamboo baskets. The truck driver, to whom the cargo belonged, was fined 7.5 million dong ($360) for smuggling the animals.

Halal slaughter: Outcry after UK undercover film exposes brutality of industry

Nigel Morris of The Independent reports that UK Ministers are under pressure to respond to growing public discontent about religious slaughter after an undercover investigation exposed the horrific mistreatment of animals at a halal abattoir.

halal.slaughterSecretly filmed footage which appears to show abattoir workers repeatedly hacking at sheep’s throats, hurling them into solid structures and kicking them in the face has intensified demands for a complete ban on the religious slaughter of animals without stunning them first.

Four slaughtermen at the North Yorkshire abattoir have had their operating licences suspended by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) after a catalogue of apparent brutality was caught on camera. The footage shows animals being treated with “gratuitous violence and contempt”, according to the charity Animal Aid, which carried out the investigation.

The film emerged days after a petition demanding that  slaughter without pre-stunning be outlawed passed the 100,000 mark, adding pressure on political leaders to bring in fresh curbs on inhumane practices in abattoirs. Government has said it has no intention of introducing new controls on the production of halal or kosher meat, a line that David Cameron repeated during a recent visit to Israel. Animals are meant to be stunned before they are killed, but there are exemptions for Muslim and Jewish producers.

The covert filming at the Bowood Lamb abattoir in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, appears to show workers hacking and sawing at throats in contravention of Islamic practice, which requires animals to be killed with one clean sweep of a knife. In one instance it took five attempts to sever blood vessels.

The petition calling for an end to non-stun slaughter has been championed by the British Veterinary Association, which has warned ministers that they “simply cannot ignore the strength of public feeling” over animal welfare.,AAAAkVf4sTE~,ZHihQoc0Mak3KW61gTbGinrWzI69us3-&bctid=4028969078001