Tag Archives: slaughterhouse

Horse meat consumption needs to stop!

The sale of horse meat is controversial and it is banned in many countries.  Many people consider horses as pets, like cats and dogs, and can’t imagine eating them.  Here in the USA, slaughterhouses have long been banned from accepting horses, although it has still been legal to transport horses across the American borders for slaughter in Canada or Mexico.  We wrote previously about the introduction of a bill in Congress that would prohibit the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.  The relevant bills (HR 3475/S 2037) have now been introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and are making slow progress through various committees.

Let’s hope these bills are passed soon, because horses suffer greatly when they are transported long distances with minimal rest periods. They may lose their balance and fall on these trips and many will be unable to stand up again. They may be trampled on by other animals and it’s not uncommon for horses to die during transport.

In France, a draft bill is also being introduced to finally see horse meat banned and give horses the same rights as companion animals like cats and dogs.  A number of French celebrities have signed an open letter urging support of this bill. The vast majority of French people do not eat horse meat and it’s increasingly controversial among the general public, but there are still “boucherie chevalines” (specialized horse butcher shops) operating in France.

Horse meat is also still consumed in European countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and some parts of Italy, as well as on a number of other continents, such as Asia (Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Japan), as well as Central and South America (Mexico and Argentina). Outside of Europe, Canada is one of the world’s biggest horse meat suppliers, although Canadians eat very little of the meat itself (except for a few areas in Quebec).  Unfortunately, the country exports both horse meat and live horses over long distances to Europe and Asia.

Like all animals raised for food, horses farmed for meat generally live in unpleasant and unnatural conditions.  They may be raised specifically for meat, or sent to slaughter after being retired from racing or pulling carriages, but either way they end up in large feedlots with thousands of others before being killed. Because they are going for meat, they don’t generally get veterinary care or hoof care. They frequently suffer from injuries and illnesses like hoof conditions and eye infections, and suffer from a lack of shelter in extreme weather conditions.

Let’s hope that legislation continues to make progress to ban the slaughter of these magnificent animals across the globe.  Of course we wish that the slaughter of all animals for food was prohibited.  Horses may be just the first step.

Cow fakes sleep to avoid being milked

A cow in a 200-strong dairy herd on a farm in England didn’t feel like getting up to be milked one morning.  A farmhand tried to coax her up, knowing that she was faking being asleep.  It’s not surprising that the cow didn’t want to get up, since being a dairy cow is a miserable experience.  This particular cow had the name of Doris and was treated kindly by the farmhand, but most others don’t have it so lucky.

It’s unlikely that a typical farmed cow would be given a name – they are usually treated as milk factories. They are forcibly made pregnant via artificial insemination and then have their babies removed from them so that humans can consume their milk. They are selectively bred to produce significantly more milk than they naturally would, and as a result, they often develop a painful udder condition called mastitis.  A third of dairy cows suffer lameness as a result of being forced to stand on hard surfaces for long periods of time.  When a cow’s milk dries up, and her body finally wears out, she is sent to the slaughterhouse for meat.

Many people choose to give up meat, recognizing the harm that comes from killing the animals for our consumption.  But they don’t always stop to think about the suffering endured by dairy cows and egg laying hens in producing dairy and eggs for human consumption.  A vegan diet is the best way to avoid causing animal suffering.

Custom-exempt cruelty

We’ve often talked about the abuse and the cruelty to farm animals at the nation’s mainstream slaughterhouses, but we haven’t talked much about the custom-exempt slaughterhouses. A custom-exempt slaughter facility is a slaughter facility that does not have a state or federal inspector on duty, which means that the meats from these facilities are not considered state or federally-inspected meats. Custom-exempt plants serve hunters who want to process wild animal carcasses; they also slaughter cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats for anyone who wants meat for themselves, their household, or nonpaying guests. The “exempt” signifies that these operations are excused from continuous inspection, unlike facilities subject to state and federal inspection where government officials are on the premises whenever slaughter is being conducted.

A petition delivered to the USDA recently on behalf of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) reported that the US Department of Agriculture consistently fails to review and respond to animal welfare violations at custom-exempt slaughter facilities, resulting in animals being beaten, held in deplorable conditions, and deprived of food and water for extended periods.

Dena Jones – Animal Welfare Institute

“AWI is unfortunately accustomed to uncovering and witnessing the most egregious forms of animal abuse; the treatment of custom slaughtered farm animals surely ranks among the worst,” said Dena Jones, AWI’s farm animal program director.

It calls on the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to thoroughly revise its directive pertaining to custom-exempt slaughter to better protect animals, avoid misleading the public, report suspected animal cruelty to state authorities, and close loopholes that allow facilities suspended for egregious humane handling violations to continue slaughtering animals under their custom status, among other recommendations.

Back in 2009, the FSIS instructed its personnel to apply the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act  (HMSA), which requires the humane treatment and handling of certain food animals at slaughter, to custom-exempt slaughter facilities. Despite that directive and two subsequent revisions, the AWI report concludes that the “FSIS does not apply the HMSA to custom-exempt slaughter in any meaningful way.”

Let’s hope that the FSIS take action on this critical gap in their oversight of these facilities.

Boiled alive!

There are chickens literally being boiled to death in slaughterhouses. Slaughterhouses don’t have glass walls for a reason. It’s often been said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls we would all be vegetarians. But glass walls or not these stories need to be told.

Chickens are being boiled to death in slaughterhouses across the country, right under the noses of USDA inspectors. We’re absolutely appalled at the cruelty.

Read more

If slaughterhouses had glass walls…

Planted Foods factory in Switzerland

Paul McCartney, a former Beatle and longtime vegetarian, famously said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

Although one of the most well-known quotes in the animal compassion movement, it took the team behind Planted Foods—a Swiss food tech company dedicated to ending animal suffering through tasty plant-based alternatives to meat—to run with the idea.

Convinced that the food industry needed to be more transparent about its cruelty-free ingredients and processes, Planted Foods made this quote literal by building an enormous glasshouse around their production in the heart of their Switzerland-based factory.

A slaughterhouse worker

Slaughterhouses are often miles away from urban centers, guarded by impenetrable walls and perplexing laws. To date, the primary means of drawing attention to the non-transparency of the industry has been through activists sneaking out footage of terrible conditions experienced by animals and practices the slaughterhouse workers endure.

Planted’s Co-Founder Pascal Bieri says, “Unlike the animal meat industry, we have nothing to hide.” Open, airy, and entirely transparent, their factory and ethos is a sharp contrast to the efforts of meat manufacturers to hide the harshness of their production processes from consumers.

Covid-19 harms both workers and animals

Slaughterhouses kill more than just animals. Meatpacking plants, along with prisons, have become the nation’s leading hot spots for the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Thousands of meatpacking workers have fallen ill, many have died. Virus outbreaks at meatpacking plants have lead to the virus spreading more widely in surrounding communities, said Nicholas Christakis, director of Yale University’s Human Nature Lab and a specialist in how contagion travels through social networks.

While we wrote back in June 2020 about Covid 19 spreading in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, we now know so much more about how the virus spreads in these places. Slaughterhouses and meat processing plants are favorable environments for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The virus thrives in lower temperatures and in very high or very low relative humidity. Metallic surfaces retain live viruses. Aerosols, densely combining dust, feathers, and feces, are produced in the plants, and intense water use carries materials extensively over surfaces. Workers must speak loudly or shout over the noise, releasing more droplets and spreading them further. Workplaces are crowded, and social distancing is difficult. The plight of the slaughterhouse workers was already dire, but this just puts another layer on their hardship.

Read more

Adopt a Farm Animal in honor of Mother’s Day

Cows - Liberty and Indigo

Oscar winning actor, Joaquin Phoenix, recently urged people to adopt a farm animal in honor of Mother’s Day. In February, he visited the slaughterhouse, Manning Beef in California, to facilitate the rescue of a cow and her newborn calf and deliver them to Farm Sanctuary. Phoenix negotiated the release of the animals from the slaughterhouse alongside a group that included fiancée and fellow activist Rooney Mara, both his and Mara’s mothers, Earthlings director Shaun Monson, Los Angeles Animal Save Founder Amy Jean Davis, and Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur.

He named the cow Liberty and the calf Indigo.  “It’s impossible not to smile at the love that radiates from Liberty for her calf, Indigo, or the marvelous curiosity they share for their new life roaming spacious land in permanent sanctuary. Thanks to generous supporters like you, Liberty is able to nurse Indigo, bond with her, protect her, and watch her grow up—just as nature intended,” Phoenix said.

Farm Sanctuary, with locations in upstate New York and southern California, provides space and freedom for farm animals that have been rescued from stockyards, factory farms and slaughterhouses.  They do what they can to rehabilitate and provide lifelong care to help animals recover from abuse and neglect.  Farm Sanctuary operates the country’s largest farm animal rescue and adoption network. Every year, they assist with hundreds of urgent placement needs, including helping to secure homes for victims of cruelty and neglect, factory farm victims, such as those rescued from natural disasters or transport accidents, or for animals who are surrendered by farmers or guardians.

To sponsor a farm animal today, choose the type of animal who’s right for you and complete the monthly sponsorship registration form. Sponsors make a year-long commitment to a shelter animal and make monthly, quarterly, or annual payments. In return, you will receive a sponsorship certificate with a color photograph of your sponsored friend, and other benefits depending on your animal.

No reason to celebrate Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A Cow Appreciation DayChick-fil-A recently held a “Cow Appreciation Day”, but we’re doing anything but celebrating. Their idea of “appreciating” cows is to give away free chicken. While we’re all for skipping the burgers, substituting chicken has to be one of the worst deals of the century. Let’s look at some of the details of the Chick-fil-A bad deal.

While not quite as high as beef, chicken still has high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol that contribute to clogged arteries and other diseases. Cooking chicken also produces more cancer-causing heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) than any other meat when cooked, and fried chicken is even worse. So there’s no doubt that eating chicken is bad for your health. Read more

Chicken slaughter is killing us

Chicken-carcassesThe U.S. Department of Agriculture recently denied a petition by the National Chicken Council to remove the line speed limit on how many chickens can killed per second in the slaughterhouse.

Some food safety advocates cheered at this, calling it a victory for workers and consumers, but we don’t think it’s that much of a victory. The current rate at which chickens can be killed is already ridiculously fast at 3 chickens per second, and accidents and injuries are already a concern. Read more

« Older Entries