Tuesday, February 26


Here's a good in-depth look at the slaughterhouse behind the downers-in-food scandal - in fact, a little too in-depth sometimes (not every knock at a neighbor's door really needed to be chronicled).

Two key points jump out: 1) As the headline says, if Westland/Hallmark goes down, it's going to make things tougher for area dairy producers, who of course, deserve to have it as tough as their cows do.

    Since Westland/Hallmark closed, Chino Livestock Market has noticed a drop-off in business at weekly auctions of about 1,500 spent dairy cows from Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said owner Rod Balcao.

    Slaughterhouses out of the area bid less than Westland/Hallmark did for the skinniest cows or refuse to bid on them at all because of the high chance they will not survive a long truck ride, Balcao said.

    In addition, he said, if a cow were crippled or weak, a local dairy might have it hauled directly to the Chino slaughterhouse rather than send it to auction.

    "That meat packing plant was an asset for all the dairymen in the community," he said.
A loss of that dairymen's asset is a boon to compassionate people as well as anyone who cares about human health or the environment. Good riddance.

2) The article ends with a de facto admission that this was no isolated incident by two rogue workers - as well as a tacit admission that both compassion and human health always take a back seat to meat producers' profits. Sybrand Vander Dussen, a Corona dairyman and president of the Chino-based Milk Producers Council, says that
    when handling cows, including downers, "economics always rules. If you drag it, you damage the hide or damage the meat or hurt the cow. Anything like that will hurt you economically."

    If a cow is not diseased but off its feet and can't go to slaughter unless it stands up, it makes economic sense for a slaughterhouse to get the cow upright, including giving the cow an electric jolt or two, Vander Dussen said.
Of course, it's not actually up to the entry-level slaughterhouse workers to judge whether a cow is "not diseased" or not, it's the USDA vet's job, which is why that rule exists. While it's possible the workers could somehow tell the animals weren't diseased and wanted to keep the line moving at all costs, it's also eminently possible they didn't think they would like the verdict of the vet if notified. Either way, their criminal actions were, as Vander Dussen indicates, within the normal realm of slaughterhouse priorities, as are, no doubt, those of thousands of others going on right now.

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