The Central Valley Meat Co., based in Hanford, Calif., has been closed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) after Compassion Over Killing
(COK) captured and shared footage depicting images of "torture and intentional cruelty to cows" by facility personnel, reported Los Angeles Times
A contractor of the Washington, D.C.-based animal rights group had been working inside the facility and recorded the inhumane treatment of the cows in June.
The captured images display unconscionable treatment of cows that have spent a lifetime providing milk. Perceived as having outlived usefulness, they are sent for slaughter. Many of the cows are weak, injured or ill, states commentary in the COK video.
USDA guidelines requires quick and humane slaughter, but what the video shows is anything but humane treatment. Cows are kicked, sprayed with hot water, shot multiple times, shocked, suffocated by standing on the cows' nostrils, to name a few actions.
It is clear the cows are suffering, yet the torturous treatment continues.
"USDA considers inhumane treatment of animals at slaughter facilities to be unacceptable and is conducting a thorough investigation into these allegations," said Justin DeJong, spokesman for the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), reported Associated Press (courtesy Fox News
"Our video evidence clearly demonstrates a lot of suffering these cows are enduring," said Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing. "It's egregious. It's unnecessary. We're trying to shine a spotlight into what's happening inside the slaughterhouses because this is not an isolated incident."
Central Valley Meat Co. President Brian Coelho said in a statement the company is cooperating with officials and conducting their own internal investigation.
"We are extremely disturbed to be informed by the United States Department of Agriculture that inspection was suspended and our plant could not operate based on a videotape that was provided to the department by a third-party group that alleged inhumane treatment of animals on our property," Coelho said.
USDA officials say the footage, while disturbing and not acceptable treatment of cows, does not provide evidence that the food supply has been compromised by these actions as there is no evidence injured or disabled cows entered the food supply.
Despite this, In-N-Out Burger immediately suspended its relationship with Central Valley Meat Co. upon hearing about the allegations.
"In-N-Out Burger would never condone the inhumane treatment of animals and all of our suppliers must agree to abide by our strict standards for the humane treatment of cattle," Mark Taylor, In-N-Out's chief operating officer, said in a statement (courtesy Los Angeles Times).
Central Valley Meat Co. is also a USDA supplier for federal food programs, including school lunches.
If evidence emerges that shows the meat from these cows have been sold for any food supplies, a food recall would be initiated, say food safety officials.
"It's a good sign that the USDA is taking this seriously, but I want to see what comes next," said Meier. "The footage clearly speaks for itself, but this is not an isolated incident. Investigation after investigation of these places is revealing cruelty."
This investigation is ongoing. There are reportedly two videos, one is said to be three hours long, the other three minutes. A four-minute excerpt has been posted on YouTube.
Warning, this video is age-restricted on YouTube and contains disturbing images