A Project of Animal Place
December 13, 2001
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1. Impending Senate Farm Bill Action
2. PETA Petitions USDA to Extend HSA Protections
3. Slaughter Changes
4. Slaughter Challenges
5. Pig Industry Facing Legal/Environmental Challenges
6. Fast Food Restaurants’ Vegetarian (Or Not) Efforts
7. Food and Diet in the News
1. IMPENDING SENATE FARM BILL ACTION
Action on the Senate Farm Bill (S. 1628) is anticipated to occur possibly this week. Among other measures affecting animals are ones on factory farming, cockfighting, and the controversial “downed” animal amendment (see issue #41). The Wellstone Amendment seeks to limit subsidies for confined animal feedlot operations (CAFOs). The Allard provision is designed to stop interstate and international transport of animals used for fighting. The “downed” animal amendment addresses the treatment of nonambulatory animals at intermediate markets. Senators can be found at: http://www.senate.gov and reached through the Capitol switchboard at: (202) 224-3121.
Humanelines, Special Alert, December 10, 2001, The Humane Society of the United States.
2. PETA PETITIONS USDA TO EXTEND HSA PROTECTIONS
PETA has filed a petition with the USDA requesting the provisions of the Humane Slaughter Act be extended to cover farmed animals throughout their lives. The organization contends that the Act should be considered and applied independent of the limitations of the Federal Meat Inspection Act. PETA argues that, since farmed animals are bred with the intent to slaughter them for food, the provision regarding “the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter” should apply to them throughout their life. It further contends that humane slaughter guidelines should not be limited to federally inspected slaughterplants. The organization has requested a response within 90 days.
“PETA: More enforcement of humane slaughter,” Kiplinger, Kelly Hearn, December 11, 2001.
“PETA Challenges USDA Over Cruelty Down on the Factory Farm.”
3. SLAUGHTER CHANGES
The USDA has published a final rule establishing minimum standards for the commercial transport of equines to slaughter. Food, water, rest and handling are addressed. The regulations prohibit the transport to slaughter of animals considered unfit for travel, and if an equine becomes nonambulatory en route the animal must be euthanized by an equine veterinarian. Electric prods are prohibited, and the use of double-decker trailers will be banned in five years.
An amendment to U.K. regulations allows new gas mixtures to be used in the slaughter of poultry. Gas is advantageous to electrical stunning in that the birds are not shackled while alive. The newly allowed gases are less aversive to birds than the carbon dioxide systems currently employed in some slaughterplants. They are also less costly and speed processing. A Danish company has invented a new system whereby birds are shackled while on a flat carousel. This precludes them from hanging “for a period of time” prior to stunning and slaughter, and is less laborious.
“New Rules Announced for Humane Transport of Horses to Slaughter,” The Meating Place, Bryan Salvage, December 10, 2001.
“Interstate transportation of animals and animal products (quarantine): Equines; commercial transportation to slaughter facilities,” Federal Register, 63587–63617 [01–30259], December 7, 2001.
“Changes in Poultry Slaughter Methods,” Meat News, Meat Processing, December 11, 200l.
“Awards for Poultry Equipment Suppliers,” Meat News, Meat Processing, November 13, 2001.
4. SLAUGHTER CHALLENGES
In Washington state, only 6 slaughterplants are USDA inspected. This results in the lengthy transport of animals. A “mobile meat-processing unit,” composed of a 26-foot-long trailer, is being used in the state to slaughter animals, ranging from cattle to ostrich. Meat is marketed directly to consumers. Government grants and private donations funded the $150,000 project. USDA officials have yet to approve its use and have expressed concern about inspection feasibility.
Meat industry columnist Steve Bjerklie tells of candid slaughterplant tours taken by New Zealand schoolchildren. According to the plant manager, “The boys like the blood....and the girls don’t usually say much.” Though he notes that “slaughterhouses, even the newest and best of them, aren’t for the squeamish,” Bjerklie explains why he thinks it may be time for the American meat industry to “send out a few invitations” to help rebuild consumer demand.
“Mobile Meat Processing,” National Meat Association, Lean Trimmings, Jeremy Russell, November 26, 2001.
“Perspective,” Meat News, Meat Processing, Steve Bjerklie, December 4, 2001.
5. PIG INDUSTRY FACING LEGAL/ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. defines factory “farms” as operations that produce more manure than they can safely spread as fertilizer. He explains that it is an “outlaw industry” since all such operations break clean air and water laws. State and federal regulators lack the resources or will to enforce the laws. Kennedy warns that his organization, the Waterkeeper Alliance, may file suit against some Minnesota operations as it has against the largest such company in the world, Smithfield Foods in North Carolina. He accuses the Mn. Dept. of Agriculture of operating like an extension of corporate interests, encouraging the growth of large manure lagoons at dairy operations.
A landmark $50 million settlement forcing a Missouri pig-confinement company to cut its pollution could lead to new attacks on animal agriculture pollution in Iowa. “This is going to be an atomic bomb on the industry,” states the lawyer who represented the Mo. neighbors who sued Premium Standard Farms. A company spokesperson acknowledged that the case signals a significant change in how industry is treated. Previously, the federal Clean Water and Clean Air Acts were not enforced against large confinement operations. The judgement could be used to tighten controls in other states. While Iowa doesn’t have the massive operations found in Missouri or N. Carolina, opposition could increase if concentration continues in the state.
A compilation of references on the health and environmental impacts of industrial animal production are available from the Center for a Livable Future at:
“Factory farms face threat of legal action,” Pioneer Press, Dennis Lien, December 8, 2001.
“Hog operation agrees to settle pollution suit,” Des Moines Register, Perry Beeman, December 9, 2001.
6. FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS’ VEGETARIAN (OR NOT) EFFORTS
Both Burger King and McDonald’s carry vegetarian burgers in some regions of the country, but Burger King will soon debut the first vegetarian burger offered nationally by a major hamburger chain. It’s been test marketed in Canada, New York and California on an “extremely limited” basis. The company hopes to reach a new consumer base with it. Burger King’s chief marketing officer said, “It’s something designed with great care, and we think there’s going to be a lot of customer excitement.” Instead of soy, the patty will consist of vegetables.
“Burger King to Revamp Menu with 14 New Items,” Reuters, December 7, 2001.
“Burger King sees how new menu stacks up,” Orlando Sentinel, Dina Sanchez, December 8, 2001.
7. FOOD AND DIET IN THE NEWS
Scientists from an independent laboratory are confirming claims made by a U.K. Government Advisory Committee that there is a strong association between microorganisms in milk and intestinal disorders. A major study found that people suffering from chronic conditions such as irritable Bowel Syndrome, persistent bloating and diarrhea obtained immediate relief when certain foods were removed from their diets. The laboratory CEO accuses food industry leaders of ignoring the findings.
Two current articles consider vegetarian diets. One explains the safety and nutritional benefits of a vegetarian diet. The other discusses teen vegetarians, cautioning that they may be at higher risk for eating disorders. The Chicago Tribune contains a two-part series on hazardous meat used in the National School Lunch Program.
“UK: Food intolerance ignored by industry giants, says lab, milk can cause Crohn’s Disease,” Just Food, December 11, 2001.
“Vegetarian diet on solid ground, experts say,” USA Today, Sunny Aslam, December 7, 2001.
“Vegetarian Diet May Mask Eating Disorder in Teens,” Reuters Health, Suzanne Rostler, December 10, 2001.
“Meat from troubled plants sold to U.S. lunch program,” The Chicago Tribune, David Jackson and Geoff Dougherty, December 9, 2001.
“School lunches: Illness on the Menu,” The Chicago Tribune, David Jackson, December 9, 2001.