Peace Talks

Peace Talks is a political talk show that I host weekly on Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.1 fm (and streaming on-line at

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Farm Sanctuary responds to Biggest Beef Recall in US History

On February 19, 2008, I interviewed Tricia Barry, communications director for Farm Sanctuary, about the recent recall of 143 million pounds of beef by a Chino, CA slaughterhouse. It is the biggest beef recall in US History. The recall came after the Humane Society of the United States accused Westland/Hallmark of abusing downed cattle, releasing video that showed workers kicking cows, jabbing them near their eyes, ramming them with a forklift and shooting high-intensity water up their noses in an effort to force them to their feet for slaughter. Federal inspectors halted operations at the plant earlier this month after finding "clear violations" of USDA regulations. California prosecutors on Friday announced animal cruelty charges against two former employees of the plant. Listen Here

Press Release Below

In Light of Largest Beef Recall in US History, Farm Sanctuary Asks, "Why not pork?"

No Downers Campaign Documents More Than 20 Years of Abuse; Urges Federal Legislation to End Marketing of All Downed Animals

WASHINGTON, DC - February 18, 2008 - The largest meat recall in U.S. history (143 million pounds of beef from the Hallmark/Westland slaughter plant) has awakened national concerns over food safety, while shedding light on an ongoing practice of the meat packing industry - downed animals, those too sick, diseased or weak to stand, are entering the human food supply. No laws or government agency policies currently prevent downed pigs, sheep, goats or other livestock from going to slaughter for human consumption.

For more than 20 years, through its No Downers Campaign, Farm Sanctuary has documented abuse of non-ambulatory animals and worked for passage of the first laws in this country to end the marketing of downed cattle. Today, the nation's leading farm animal protection organization is reiterating its call for the passage of The Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act (HR 661 S 394) which would ban the slaughter of all downed animals, including pigs, sheep and other livestock. Farm Sanctuary is also calling on the USDA to close the current loophole that allows some downed cattle to continue to go to slaughter, and to prevent diseased animals from being used for human food.

Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, who has investigated stockyards and slaughterhouses documenting violations of USDA policy, the federal Methods of Humane Slaughter Act and state anti-cruelty laws for 22 years, stated, "We've had scores, if not hundreds, of phone calls, letters and emails with the USDA over the years related specifically to downed animal concerns and their reaction is about as predictable as the cruelty witnessed at Hallmark/Westland."

Julie Janovsky, Farm Sanctuary's director of campaigns, stated, "If it takes a recall of 143 million pounds of beef to change policy, then so be it, but the USDA hasn't protected our nation's children who already ate the burgers, and who continue to eat other downed animal products. We can only hope that Congress' reaction to public outrage is swift and thorough. Legislation is in play with the Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act. It's time to enact it."

Farm Sanctuary has rescued 226 cattle since its inception (146 through the New York shelter and 80 through the California shelter.) Of these, 79 were downed animals rescued during investigations at stockyards and slaughterhouses throughout the U.S.

Jeff Lydon, executive director at Farm Sanctuary added, "I wish we were as shocked as the USDA claims to be by these blatant acts of animal cruelty inflicted at the Chino slaughterhouse, but our experience with these facilities suggests that continued violations under the current system are inevitable."

About Farm Sanctuary
Farm Sanctuary is the nation's leading farm animal protection organization. Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to expose and stop cruel practices of the "food animal" industry through research and investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public awareness projects, youth education, and direct rescue and refuge efforts. Farm Sanctuary shelters in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Orland, Calif., provide lifelong care for hundreds of rescued animals, who have become ambassadors for farm animals everywhere by educating visitors about the realities of factory farming. Additional information can be found at


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