THE USDA THINKS YOU'RE STUPID
As the fallout continues to spread from the HSUS downed-cow video bombshell, the issue I raised last week continues to reverberate, and unsurprisingly, many incurious journalists continue to give it a pass. An exception is this unnamed AP reporter, who reports the company line that "there's no evidence any downed animal entered the food supply" and then follows right up with this retort from Wayne Pacelle:
- “I don't know what they reviewed but we sent them tape that showed a number of downers that went into the kill box where they're slaughtered,” said Pacelle. “There's no ambiguity in our mind that this plant was accepting downers, abusing downers and slaughtering downers.”
A Dow Jones reporter tries an appeal to sheer logic: "But what would be the purpose of the inhumane handling of the cattle? In other words, is there any possible other purpose for forcing a fallen cow to their feet other than, say, bypassing the downer prohibition? I mean is there absolutely anything that could be the reason behind this except for that?" But Peterson is ready with an utterly transparent load of nonsense that has nothing to do with what was just asked: "Well, I can't, you know, muse on people's thinking other than to say it's not necessary in a plant that operates effectively, and it's certainly not appropriate. And so perhaps they have some animals that they thought they could get up to move." Get up to move where? To that little-known swimming-pool area, perhaps?
And if all else fails, there's the old standby of "Next question." A Press Enterprise reporter brings up the previous "violations of humane handling" at the plant. First Peterson pretends there was only this one little isolated problem of excessive electric prodding in 2005. Then...
- REPORTER: And that violation, the noncompliance in 2005, was that all they had in their past? Because they are on the Quarterly Enforcement Report from late 2002.
DR. PETERSEN: Yes. Okay. Now in 2002, as other agency activities we had some activities related to E.coli 0157H7 food safety related issues, some strategies that we pushed out nationwide, telling plants what we expect for them to do as far as control of that pathogen. And we looked closely at virtually every plant associated that would have any relationship to E.coli. That was over 2,500 of them at the time. And they were put on notice for some questions we had regarding their food safety system at that time.
- REPORTER: Are you saying that they did test positive for E.coli in 2002?
MODERATOR: Excuse me. We need to go on to the next question. We have quite a few in line waiting, so let's go on to the next one.
POSTSCRIPT: Off-topic in terms of the USDA's assessment of your mental fortitude... but I loved this tidbit from one of the above articles: "On Thursday afternoon, protestors stood outside the company at Yorba and Schaefer avenues waving placards that said 'Stop Corporate Greed' and 'Hallmark Tortured Sick Cows.' Passing motorists honked their horns or flashed a thumbs-up." Then: "Two women in a black Honda Civic sat across the street with homemade signs saying 'We support Hallmark Meat Packing' and 'Get the whole story.' They declined to comment." Get the whole story. But not from us!!!