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From: TSS ()
Subject: GAO REPORT ON HUMANE METHODS OF HANDLING AND SLAUGHTER I.E. DOWNER COW SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM
Date: April 17, 2008 at 2:44 pm PST

GAO REPORT ON HUMANE METHODS OF HANDLING AND SLAUGHTER I.E. DOWNER COW
SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM


What GAO Found

April 17, 2008

HUMANE METHODS OF HANDLING AND SLAUGHTER

Public Reporting on Violations Can Identify Enforcement Challenges and
Enhance Transparency

In January 2004, GAO reported that incomplete and inconsistent inspection
records made it difficult to determine the frequency and scope of HMSA
violations, inspectors did not always document violations of the act, and
they did not consistently document the scope and severity of each incident.
GAO also reported that enforcement actions to address noncompliance with the
act were inconsistent, and that USDA was not using consistent criteria to
determine when to suspend plant operations in cases of serious or repeated
violations. The Congress has urged USDA to report annually on trends in
compliance with humane slaughter methods. Such public reporting can enhance
transparency, but USDA’s most recent report was in March 2003 and relied on
incomplete data. For example, that report said very few infractions were for
inhumane treatment, but GAO found that at least one-fourth of the
infractions were for ineffective stunning which fails to meet humane
standards. USDA has taken actions to address the recommendations GAO made in
2004 about oversight of HMSA. However, GAO has not evaluated the
effectiveness of these actions. USDA faces resource challenges that may make
it difficult for it to enforce HMSA and ensure the safety of the food
supply. Although USDA’s budget for food safety-related activities has
increased since 1988, staffing for these activities has declined from its
highest level in 1995. Agency officials noted the overall decline is due, in
part, to consolidation in the meat industry, resulting in fewer facilities.
In 2004, GAO found that USDA lacked detailed information on how much time
its inspectors spend on humane handling and slaughter activities, making it
difficult to determine if the number of inspectors is adequate. USDA has
taken actions to address most of GAO’s recommendationsfor assessing its
resource needs for HMSA, but GAO has not evaluated these actions. Although
not directly related to HMSA activities, the quantity of meat and poultry
inspected and passed by USDA has grown, and the quantity of meat and poultry
recalled has increased. USDA has oversight responsibility for ensuring the
safety of meat, poultry, and processed eggs. For example, federal
regulations prohibit companies from processing and selling meat from
disabled cows—which have a higher probability of being infected with bovine
spongiform encephalopathy—without explicit USDA inspector approval. However,
USDA is only 1 of 15 agencies that collectively administer at least 30 laws
related to food safety. This fragmentation is the key reason GAO added the
federal oversight of food safety to its High-Risk Series in 2007 and called
for a governmentwide reexamination of the food safety system. GAO has
reported on problems with this system—including inconsistent oversight,
ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources. Going forward,
as GAO has recommended, a governmentwide, results-oriented performance plan
and a reconvened President’s Council on Food Safety could build a sustained
focus on the safety of the nation’s food supply.

Note: Data for 2008 are estimated. Although the number of recalls has
declined in recent years, the quantity of meat and poultry recalled has
increased sharply. Meat and poultry product recalls declined from 125 in
2002 to 58 in 2007. However, 2 of the 6 biggest meat recalls in U.S. history
have occurred in the past 6 months. In October 2007, Topps Meat Company LLC
announced the recall of 22 million pounds of ground beef used for frozen
hamburgers due to E. coli contamination. At the time, the Topps recall was
the fifth largest in U.S. history. The E. coli-contaminated meat sickened at
least 32 people in eight states. On February 17, 2008, Westland/Hallmark
Meat Company announced the recall of more than 143 million pounds of beef,
the largest recall in U.S. history. The quantity of meat and poultry
recalled has increased from 5 million pounds in 1994, the first year for
which data were readily available, to 145 million in just the first quarter
of March 2008.

see full text 18 pages ;


http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08686t.pdf


MEMORANDUM


To: Majority Members of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee

From: Majority Staff Domestic Policy Subcommittee

Date: April 15, 2008

Re: Severe gaps in USDA oversiqht of WestlandlHallmark plant

In press briefings following the public release of video documenting animal handling abuses at
the Westland/Hallmark slaughterhouse in Chino, California, USDA officials have repeatedly
affirmed that the incidents at V/estland/Hallmark represented an aberration in the meat industry.1

Prior to the public release of undercover video, however, USDA had judged
Westland/Hallmark's practices to be in compliance with federal laws. In its 2007 audit, USDA
noted no infractions and gave Westland/Hallmark a faultless report.2 The USDA audit is
attached.

USDA audit findings are at odds with the documented instances of animal cruelty and food
safety violations. Following public release of the video evidence, USDA oversaw the largest
voluntary beef recall in U.S. history.

In an interview with Subcommittee staff3 the undercover investigator who documented the
abuses at Westland/Hallmark revealed instances of collusion by V/estland/Hallmark plant
management to violate animal handling and food safety laws and to conceal plant practices from
USDA auditors. This undercover investigator also recounted the virtual absence of USDA
inspectors in the plant, and the inability of USDA inspectors at the Westland/Hallmark to
monitor the large plant.

Collusion by Management to evade law

When he began working at Westland/Hallmark, the undercover investigator asserted that he did
not receive any formal training. Instead, a plant manager gave him an employee handbook and
an informal run through the materials which lasted "about five minutes." On the other hand, the
USDA audit notes that "per establishment managers, all employees who handle livestock get
humane training at least monthly."4 The Audit goes on to say that employees must sign off on
attendance sheets to veriffy their training as well as issues covered in their training.

The investigator described an incident, not depicted in the video, where an animal with
untrimmed horns could not get through a chute. Rather than stop operations to pull the animal
out and trim its horns, employees electrically stunned the animal in its anus repeatedly to force it
to move. The manager present encouraged this practice despite the animal's bellows and obvious
discomfort. The investigator noted that the electric prods were used systematically rather than
exceptionally on animals while they were on the chute. Despite this practice, the USDA Audit
notes that "per establishment managers, a number of changes have been made to address the
noncompliance and concerns [regarding excessive prodding] identified during the previous
verification visit."5

The investigator also reported that on the eve before a November 13th and 14th audit,
management had a meeting with the employees and explained that they should not engage in
inhumane animal handling practices in front of the inspectors.

The investigator also reported that plant managers would routinely fail to inform the USDA
inspector if local farmers brought cattle to be slaughtered throughout the day i.e., after the
conclusion of the 6:30 a.m. inspection and the 12:30 p.m. inspection. The plant manager would
not inform the inspector and the inspector, who remained in his office, was never aware of the
practice.

USDA ěnvisibility

The undercover investigator explained that employees did not fear getting caught committing
animal handling abuses because the inspector never showed up unannounced. The investigator
described how one employee concealed an electric prodder that he used on the animals even
while the inspector was present.

The investigator reported that the USDA inspector was rarely present. The investigator
commented that "to the USDA inspector, the cattle was invisible unless they were about to be
slaughtered."

The investigator explained that had the inspector's offlrce had windows and been located next to
the loading pen, "that alone would help curb bad behavior." .......

SNIP...SEE FULL TEXT 12 PAGES ;


http://domesticpolicy.oversight.house.gov/documents/20080415175727.pdf


this is just another one of the federal gov. broken records they play from time to time.
the GAO AND OIG is helpless in oversight of USDA et al. AS you can see from
the reports over the past 8 years. same BSe over and over again, and i see no
hope with this problem with the new administration coming in, regardless who wins.
BIG AG has a stranglehold on the white house. ...TSS


Thursday, March 6, 2008
House committee subpoenas Hallmark/Westland CEO - i call for an investigation of the investigators

----- Original Message -----

From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
To:
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 12:15 PM
Subject: [BSE-L] House committee subpoenas Hallmark/Westland CEO - i call for an investigation of the investigators


March 5, 2008, 1:48PM
Lawmakers Subpoena Beef-Recall Executive


By MATTHEW PERRONE By AP Business Writer
© 2008 The Associated Press


http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/fn/5595237.html


3/6/2008

i call for an investigation of the investigators

>>>House committee subpoenas Hallmark/Westland CEO The subpoena orders him
to testify at a March 12 hearing titled "Regulatory Failure: Must America
Live With Unsafe Food?"<<<

what a hoot. the ones that should be subpoenad and held accountable are the
very ones on the committee. they have failed the public for years about BSE
risk and regulations. the very people that are going to investigate this
thing are the very folks responsible for all the children and elderly that
were exposed to the potential of mad cow via non-ambulatory i.e. DOWNERS,
the most likely to have a TSE. waxman et al have been claiming to be
concerned about BSE aka mad cow disease's and one issue was the
non-ambulatory 'downer' cattle, and i quote waxman;

Failure To Test Staggering Cow May Reflect Wider Problems Rep. Waxman raises
concerns that the recent failure of USDA to test an impaired cow for BSE may
not be an isolated incident, citing the failure of USDA to monitor whether
cows condemned for central nervous system symptoms are actually tested for
mad cow disease.


http://reform.democrats.house.gov/documents/20040607142914-86912.pdf

http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20040607142914-86912.pdf


folks, that was in 2004. why, in 2008, why are we still discussing the same
failures$$$

THE PEOPLE BELOW SHOULD ALL BE SUBPOENAED AS WELL FOR THEIR CONTINUED
FAILURES TO PROTECT THE CONSUMER FROM MAD COW DISEASE. and i call for an
investigation of the investigators below. why in 2008 are we still floundering$$$

Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and
Investigations


http://energycommerce.house.gov/Subcommittees/ovin.shtml


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BEEF RECALL NATIONWIDE - SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM UPDATE


http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2008/02/beef-recall-nationwide-school-lunch.html

CJD QUESTIONNAIRE


http://cjdquestionnaire.blogspot.com/

Specified Risk Material SRM


http://madcowspontaneousnot.blogspot.com/2008/02/specified-risk-materials-srm.html


http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2008/03/house-committee-subpoenas.html

TSS




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