WASHINGTON – A California beef processor that was temporarily closed after allegations of inhumane treatment of cattle surface has been cleared to provide product to the National School Lunch Program, the US Department of Agriculture.
In a memo to regional and state officials who oversee special and child nutrition programs, USDA said the agency had concluded its investigation into Central Valley Meat Company in Hanford, Calif., and found that no food safety violation had occurred.
“USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) investigation has concluded that there is no evidence to support the allegation that a downer cow was slaughtered and entered the food supply, and that a food safety violation occurred as a result,” the memo stated. “In addition, FSIS has concluded its evaluation of the extensive corrective action plan submitted by Central Valley Meat Company to correct recent humane handling violations and has permitted Central Valley Meat to resume processing. As a result, the company will resume packing and shipping existing meat orders purchased by USDA for the National School Lunch Program.”
FSIS suspended operations at the beef slaughter facility following the release of an undercover video that appeared to depict dairy cows being abused before slaughter. Compassion Over Killing, the animal rights group responsible for the video, alleged that a downer cow was slaughtered and had entered the food supply. However, FSIS maintained there was no evidence that a sick animal was slaughtered for human consumption.
Central Valley Meat received federal approval to reopen on Aug. 27 after USDA accepted an action plan submitted by the company aimed at raising animal handling standards.