The USDA has ordered the largest recall in history of US slaughtered beef.
More than two weeks after a US Humane Society undercover video was released showing extreme animal cruelty and the slaughter for food of downer cows too sick to enter the food chain (in this case, the US school lunch program), the USDA ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef.
How does this effect kosher slaughter? Well…
…perhaps, like this:
The US Humane Slaughter Act covers all beef slaughtered in the US and sold across state lines or sold to federal programs or the US Government itself.
What is less known about the Humane Slaughter Act is that it also covers meat imported into the US.
While the recall announced today was primarily due to food safety issues, the recently released PETA video from South America shows two potential problems, cruel treatment of the animals before slaughter and carrying out dressing procedures on animals before they have lost consciousness.
Both are violations of the Humane Slaughter Act and niether can be said to fall under the religious exemption clause of that act.
Because both problems appear to be endemic to South American slaughter, this should mean South American kosher slaughtered beef can and should be banned from import.
The USDA FSIS did not respond to repeated requests last week to clarify this situation.
This may mean the USDA is fully aware of problems with imported beef, but is choosing not to act.
That it took the USDA more than two weeks to act in this case, where a real threat to health is documented, tells me the Bush USDA only acted because public pressure was great. Without that, American children would still be eating this sick beef in their supposedly healthy school lunches:
Advocacy groups also weighed in, noting the problems at Westland wouldn't have been revealed had it not been for animal right activists.
''On the one hand, I'm glad that the recall is taking place. On the other, it's somewhat disturbing, given that obviously much of this food has already been eaten,'' said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union. ''It's really closing the barn door after the cows left.''
The Bush USDA is a sick agency. It has dropped the ball repeatedly on food safety and animal welfare issues. It has gutted the Humane Slaughter Act. And the buck stops at a ranch in Texas.
Let's all hope Congress will investigate the USDA, agency heads' ties to big agribusiness, and the unholy gutting of the Humane Slaughter Act by the Bush USDA in the name of 'religious freedom.'
[Hat Tip: Dr. Gershon Mendel.]