I spoke a few moments ago with AgriProcessors' spokesman Mike Thomas.
As many of you know, Sholom M. Rubashkin claims to have an independent humane audit done in November that proves AgriProcessors slaughter humane. Mr. Rubashkin also offered to make this audit available to anyone who asked for a copy. However, Mr. Rubashkin has consistently refused to release the audit to me or to any member of the press he believes to be hostile. He also refused to release the audit to PETA.
ASI will not release its audit specifications, but ASI's president Tom Hugé – who is not, he stresses, directly involved in Animal Welfare audits and is not familiar with the technical issues of those audits – believes that Dr. Temple Grandin's specifications are what ASI follows.
So, taking Mr. Hugé at his word, how could Rubashkin have passed an animal welfare audit while using a hook to rip out animals' throats and while using electric prods to herd cattle into the Facomia pen and to position them in that pen, including using the electric prod on the face of animals as demonstrated on the PETA video?
- Mr. Hugé told me that ASI does two types of Animal Welfare audits – announced and unannounced. Announced audits are scheduled with the plant being audited. In other words, advance notice. Unannounced audits are surprise audits – the plant has no prior notice of the audit. If Rubashkin chose an announced audit – and that seems to be the case – he could easily stage slaughter without throat-ripping and gratuitous use of electric prods, as he seems to have done when Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture was taken on a personal guided tour of AgriProcessors.
- Under pressure from kosher supervising agencies and Agudath Israel, the USDA rewrote its guidelines on ritual slaughter. Those newly-written guidelines could be easily twisted to appear to condone throat-ripping. The USDA has now removed the uncertainty that would have allowed this.
If this case is ever brought to court, the ASI audit will become part of the court record. Worse yet for ASI, ASI itself may become an issue, although there is no reason to suspect ASI of any wrongdoing. It would be shameful if AgriProcessors, in its attempt to protect itself from harm caused by the PETA scandal, damaged the business and the reputation of an otherwise reputable company.
A food industry source writes:
A slaughterhouse audit requires some training -- and one would have to establish that the person sent to the plant is competent to do the auditing. (Note that the FMI/NCCR slaughter auditors must have an animal science degree …
This may also be an issue in the ASI audit.