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USDA eyes whether tainted beef entered food supply

FRESNO, Calif. — Federal regulators who shut down a central California slaughterhouse after receiving an animal welfare video were investigating Tuesday whether beef from sick cows reached the human food supply.

The video appears to show workers bungling the slaughter of cows struggling to walk and even stand. Under federal regulations, sick animals cannot be slaughtered for human consumption.

The investigation will determine whether sick cows were slaughtered and whether meat products from the company should be recalled, a spokesman for the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service said.

The agency suspended operations Monday at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford after receiving the video Friday from the animal welfare group Compassion Over Killing. The footage, which the group says was shot over two weeks in June and July, shows animals bleeding and thrashing after being repeatedly shot in the head with a pneumatic gun in unsuccessful efforts to render them unconscious for slaughter.

Federal regulations say that to avoid unnecessary suffering during slaughter, animals must be rendered unconscious by a single shot to the head from a pneumatic gun that fires a bolt through the skull to pierce the brain.

USDA eyes whether tainted beef entered food supply 08/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 12:02am]
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