For a few weeks now, a video (editor’s note: not for the squeamish) from the Humane Society of the United States has been circulating the internet that shows workers at a meat packing plant abusing and kicking sick cows. Even though Ag officials have come out and said that there were no real “health risks” from the meat, the meat company announced over the weekend that they were recalling 143 million pounds of meat, some of which was to be used in the school lunch program, due to the Humane Society investigation. 143 million pounds – that’s a lot of meat.
The video has also prompted San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos to charge one of the slaughter plant’s employees with five felony counts under California’s anti-cruelty statute and three misdemeanor counts for abusing downed animals, and a second worker with three misdemeanors counts of abusing downed animals.
Widespread mistreatment of animals in the food system is nothing new, nor is it surprising. Activists have long made the claim that working in slaughterhouses raises levels of interpersonal violence among people, too (the argument being that one becomes immune to pain, suffering and killing).
What is new (and a bit surprising, but sea changes seem afoot in the food system) are the speed at which this story has disseminated, the role played by a very pro-vegan organization in creating political critique of meat production, and the very obvious (in its absence) role of the USDA in admitting they don’t have nearly enough inspectors on the ground at production sites.
Now, who’s hungry?