Saturday, February 2


Here's a good roundup of the latest developments in the downer-meat scandal. This one focuses on the revelation that HSUS went directly to prosecutors with the video and were asked not to go public yet and waited a month before releasing the clips on their site when no prosecution was forthcoming.

And the HSUS investigator I lauded - and still do - goes into detail about what was going on at Hallmark and how frequently.

Some choice bits:

* The USDA inspections came regularly at 12:30 and 6:30 so that workers had plenty of time for misdeeds such as those captured on video. This squares with what Howard Lyman and others have reported about the USDA's joke of an "inspection" process.

* The In-N-Out burger chain pledged to never use hallmark beef from this point forward.

* Geez, Wallace Shawn is getting to be a regular around here: "Anthony Magidow, general manager of the meat processing portion of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., said Friday that he could not believe cows had been mistreated at the facility until the Washington Post reporter who broke the story showed him the video last Monday." Yeah, it was just too incredible to contemplate that these rogue operators might be flouting the rules, given that "one was a supervisor with 30 years of experience at the company and another had worked there for 12 years." Maybe you should get down to the kill floor a little more often and see what your most trusted employees are up to, Mr. Magidow, if you were, indeed, not aware such things were going on.

But here's the best part:

* "Magidow said there is no chance that any of the seven animals that were tormented in the videotape wound up in meat that went into the national school lunch program." OK, that's the view from guy who's unable to believe what's going on because he's out of the loop - how does that square with the actual eyewitness testimony? "The undercover investigator said many cows approved for slaughter later went down, and he frequently saw those animals enter the kill box. Workers never notified the USDA officer on site after animals went down, he said." Hmmmm. Too bad you're so unaware of what your longtime employees are up to, Mr. Magidow, 'cause it sure sounds like downed animals were made into meat - and if there was no notification, nobody knows which downers wound up where.

And all snark aside, this is what it comes down to. This clueless bozo thinks he can play games with peoples's lives (not to mention animals') by sitting there and declaring the animals didn't get made into meat. So let's consider this logically for a second... these longtime employees have a downed animal, and rather than use some of the equipment they have on hand to forcibly move cattle, they spend minutes of precious time (remember the profit margin depends on cattle coming into the slaughterhouse as rapidly and regularly as possible) taunting and torturing the animal to make it walk... and then once it's walking they just walk it out of the facility and into more paperwork, rather than send it to the kill floor and be done with it. How credulous are we supposed to be? Why would anyone let him get away with such patent nonsense when lives are at stake?

The USDA is still probing. It's a chance for them to come out swinging and show they're not just industry patsies by a) closing Hallmark completely and b) undertaking a thorough investigation of this practice throughout the industry. Or they could always go with c) declaring that this was all just a simple misunderstanding, isolated at this one location and on these particular dates when it just so happened that a camera was running, and everybody should go ahead and eat all the meat they possibly can. Wonder which the USDA will choose? Place your bets now.

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