KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The North American Meat Association (NAMA) and Dr. Temple Grandin, animal handling expert, are collaborating with Arrowsight to create an enhanced remote video auditing system (RVA) designed specifically for animal welfare applications.
The collaboration comes in response to events surrounding the Central Valley Meat Company in Hanford, Calif. The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) suspended operations at the company for animal handling violations after receiving an undercover video depicting dairy cows being abused before slaughter. FSIS later cleared Central Valley Meat to resume operations on Aug. 26.
"The California beef plant highlighted in the recent undercover video was undergoing major construction during the time the video was filmed and as a result, all of the images shown were not in areas receiving RVA services," NAMA said in a notice to its members. "Additionally, the areas shown in the undercover video in the outside pens were not previously covered at all with RVA services and as a result, that plant has taken a proactive step to install extra cameras for additional RVA services."
NAMA said the new RVA system will sample a new plant process to segregate higher risk animals into designated pens that have full RVA camera coverage. The new system also will audit cameras in between the unloading area and the designated pen to guard against higher risk animals getting diverted to other pens, NAMA said. NAMA said the new system will enable industry to better ensure humane handling of all animals.
"It is important for our industry technology and service suppliers to drive new discoveries through partnerships within our processing community, such as propelling advancements in animal welfare," said Barry Carpenter, CEO of NAMA.
Dr. Grandin said that RVA conducted by third-party auditors help to ensure that plant employees follow proper animal handling procedures. But it must be monitored by auditors outside the plant in order to be effective.
"Arrowsight is a leader in providing this service," she said. "The recent undercover video made it very clear that more monitoring of the condition of the animals upon arrival at the plant is necessary. I am working with Arrowsight and its clients to develop methods to achieve this."