FRESNO, Calif. – Officials with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) closed Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif., after receiving an undercover video depicting dairy cows being abused before slaughter.
USDA received the video on Aug. 17 from Compassion Over Killing, a non-profit animal-welfare organization which said the video was filmed over a two-week period in June, according to news reports. Excerpts from the video that were provided to The Associated Press depicted a cow being suffocated after a bolt stunner failed to render it unconscious. The video also shows downed cows being pulled by their tails and kicked.
"USDA considers inhumane treatment of animals at slaughter facilities to be unacceptable and is conducting a thorough investigation into these allegations," said Justin DeJong, spokesman for the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service.
The plant owners, Brian and Lawrence Coelho, declined to comment on the video. The company, which is contracted to sell ground beef to the agency’s food programs, is a USDA-inspected facility. News reports state that USDA had at least two inspectors at the plant. USDA said it told plant officials on Aug. 19 that it was withholding inspection marks and immediately suspending the assignment of investigators at the plant. The investigation is ongoing, according to USDA.