Wednesday, February 6


Of the options I delineated for the USDA in the tortured-cow video case, it looks like they're leaning closest to... option "c." The plant has been "shut down" by the agency, which sounds powerfully conclusive and close to my option "a" when rendered as a headline, but the fine print explains that "the suspension will remain in effect and the Westland Meat Co. will not be allowed to operate until written corrective actions are submitted and verified by the USDA to ensure that animals are humanely handled." This means the focus is indeed on this one incident at this one location, as though the practice of torturing downers - and indeed, food animals in general - were not widespread throughout the industry.

Not a big surprise: As the hubbub dies down, the average consumer hears, if anything, that the tortured-cow plant was "shut down," end of story, so they can continue consuming meat from all those other animal-friendly facilities that put little mints on the animals' pillows before killing them.

UPDATE: Something I missed previously - Businessweek reports that not only In-N-Out but also Jack-In-the-Box has banned Westland meat. Basically, if you're a burger restaurant with a hyphenated name, you don't want anything to do with this beef - for now, anyway: In-N-Out seemed to categorically ban this supplier forever, where Jack-In-the-Box is just "until further notice." Also, clear across the continent, NYC Public Schools took all burgers off their menus. All of these, however temporary, are big developments, attaching name-brand entities to the concept of rejecting meat that is both unsafe and (not coincidentally) unethical.

LATEST INCONCEIVABILITY: Dean Cliver, professor emeritus of food safety at UC Davis "said he was especially shocked by the news, because as someone who has worked on food safety for 45 years, he believed in the federal inspection process. 'That the most intensive inspection system we have was asleep on this situation bothers me enormously,' he said."

Yeah, good eye, professor emeritus. I mean, really, who could have predicted... ?

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