Federal regulators have shut down a Central California slaughterhouse after receiving undercover video showing dairy cows, some unable to walk, being repeatedly shocked and shot before being killed.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which buys beef for the school lunch program and inspects meat facilities, suspended operations at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif.
The Fresno-area facility, which may have sold beef to the California Department of Education, slaughters hundreds of cows a day after the cows lose their value as milk producers. USDA officials say they cannot yet comment on whether beef from the facility is tainted.
The video (below) was shot by a member of the animal rights group, Compassion Over Killing. The person shooting the video was able to get a job at the slaughterhouse and purportedly captured on video how dairy cows, no longer able to produce milk, were handled before for being slaughtered.
"We are extremely disturbed to be informed by the USDA that … our plant could not operate based upon a videotape that was provided to the department by a third party group that alleged inhumane treatment of animals on our property," said Brian Coelho, of the Central Valley Meat Co., in a statement.
Officials at the plant say the family-owned business has been operating for 50 years and handling of the cattle is supervised by family members and managers who have a long tenure with the company.
In a statement, the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service said: "Upon confirming several human handling violations, FSIS suspended operations at the facility and is prepared to take further action as warranted by the investigation."
Justin DeJong, spokesman for the Food Safety Inspection Service, told the Associated Press that the USDA considers "inhumane treatment of animals at slaughter facilities to be unacceptable."
A case at a slaughterhouse in Chino in 2008 led to the conviction of two people and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's largest beef recall.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Southern California burger chain In-N-Out, said it was severing ties to the slaughterhouse.
Warning: This video contains graphic material