A California slaughterhouse suspended and under investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture after an animal rights group released footage of alleged mistreatment of cows there is relying on Edelman as several high-profile customers cut ties with the company.
Central Valley Meat Co. is referring media to Edelman after the group Compassion Over Killing this week released video footage of what they say is “rampant animal abuse and suffering.” The video has been viewed more than 200K times on YouTube, despite a warning about graphic content.
McDonald’s, Costco and In-N-Out Burger are among customers of Central Valley that severed supply agreements with the slaughterhouse.
“There are behaviors in the video which appear to be unacceptable and would not adhere to the standards we demand of our suppliers,” McDonald’s said in a statement.
The USDA said Aug. 21 that it had suspended Central Valley as it investigates “disturbing evidence of inhumane treatment of cattle” at its Hanford, Calif., plant. The federal agency, which received the video Fri., Aug. 17, and made the suspension Sun., Aug. 19, said it has not uncovered any evidence that would compromise food safety.
Central Valley is stressing its 30-year history as a beef provider and vowed to take the allegations seriously. “After viewing the covert video, Central Valley Meat is now working with USDA to address any concerns the government and inspectors may have,” the company said via Edelman. “We are confident in our ability to implement any directives FSIS may have and that there are no food safety issue whatsoever involving our product.”
The company is also distributing a statement from high-profile Colorado State animal science professor Temple Grandin, who said she reviewed the COK video and believes the narration is misleading and in some cases untrue. Although she says she is concerned by some actions of “egregious animal abuse,” Grandin said she has advised the company about strategies for improving handling.
COK said the video was shot by a worker at the facility from June to July 2012. It shows so-called downed cows being killed and handled with electric prods, among other instances. The group claims the allegedly mistreated cows were “spent” dairy cows no longer able to produce milk for the dairy industry.
Central Valley said Aug. 21 that it is developing a plan of action to present to the USDA to remedy any potential violations.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said its members do not condone mishandling of livestock and called the actions in the videos “disgraceful and not representative of the cattle community.”