I am sure most of us have already seen the disgusting video of employees pushing cows with a forklift. Some videos also show employees using a cattle prod on the eyes of cows. Then you have this goody two shoes response by the CEO of the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., Steve Mendell, saying:
As President of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. I want to reassure our customers and consumers that our company has met the highest standards for harvesting and processing meat under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. A fulltime USDA veterinary medical officer has been assigned to our facility for many years, and he oversees the work of three inspectors in the harvest operation and another inspector assigned to the processing operations. In addition, we have had a full time official from the USDA’s Grading Service in our operation for the purpose of ensuring contractual compliance for the meat we sell to the USDA commodity program.
During 2007, we had 17 third party audits of our operation to confirm that we meet the statutorily mandated humane handling and food safety standards. In addition we have conducted 12 internal audits by our own personnel to ensure that such standards are met. We also conduct weekly humane handling audits based on standards set forth in the American Meat Institute’s (AMI), Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide 2007 Edition, which was authored by Dr. Temple Grandin, a world renowned expert of humane handling practices. Complete documentation of this activity has been made available to the USDA investigation team currently at our plant.
Words cannot accurately express how shocked and horrified I was at the depictions contained on the video that was taken by an individual who worked at our facility from October 3 through November 14, 2007. We have taken swift action regarding the two employees identified on the video and have already implemented aggressive measures to ensure all employees follow our humane handling policies and procedures. We are also cooperating with the USDA investigators on the allegations of inhumane handling treatment which is a serious breech of our company’s policies and training.
I find it hard to believe that the USDA has let this situation gotten so far out of hand. But than again, I guess none of us should be surprised. One word. Disgusting!
Full CEO response is here.
Video is here.