A Project of Animal Place
February 20, 2002
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1. Farmed Animal Auctions Investigation
2. Forced Molting and Salmonella
3. Animal Agriculture Air Quality Study Released
4. FSIS Counters Slaughter Assertions
5. Texas Slaughterplants Targeted
6. 340,000 More Chickens to Be Gassed in Hong Kong
7. Live Animal Transport: UK
8. Live Animal Transport: US
1. FARMED ANIMAL AUCTIONS INVESTIGATION
Animal treatment at three farmed animal auction sites in Maryland was the
subject of an investigation by Compassion Over Killing (COK), a Washington,
D.C.-based animal rights organization. The October-December 2001
investigation revealed routine abuse. Gates were slammed on animals, and
confused animals, immobilized in chutes, were beaten and electrically
prodded. Animals who wouldn't or couldn't walk were dragged by their ears,
tails, or legs - sometimes upside down. Injured animals with little or no
access to water or food were found, along with dead animals. A 19-minute
video of the investigation is available from COK.
"The Auction Block: An Inside Look at Farmed Animal Sales," Compassion Over
COK Undercover Investigation: The Auction Block, The Abolitionist,
2. FORCED MOLTING AND SALMONELLA
A Columbus, Ohio television station broadcast a report on forced molting,
the egg industry practice of starving hens to cause a new cycle of egg
production. Undercover footage obtained by Mercy for Animals was shown. The
consumer-oriented feature aired documentation from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) which explained that "molting can weaken a
hen's immune system making them susceptible to Salmonella Enteritidis." The
disease caused an estimated 225,000 illnesses in the year 2000. Industry
insists that eggs are safe, but no industry representative was willing to be
interviewed for the story. McDonald's and Burger King are refusing eggs from
companies that force molt, and last year an attempt was made to prevent the
USDA from purchasing such eggs for the school lunch program. The USDA is
reportedly encouraging the industry to find alternatives to the practice.
"Could the egg industry's practices be making you sick?" WBNS News, Kevin
"Egg Cruelty," Mercy for Animals
3. ANIMAL AGRICULTURE AIR QUALITY STUDY RELEASED
Concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) air emissions constitute a
public health hazard and should be regulated. This is the conclusion of a
long-awaited report by a team of Iowa university scientists. The report was
released to the Iowa Legislature, which is debating animal agriculture
regulations this session. The team advises that the state Department of
Natural Resources should develop air quality standards for CAFOs. Odors
arising from these operations are associated with ocular and respiratory
irritants for inhabitants and nearby residents. The 10-chapter, 200+ page
report, essentially a review of existing scientific literature, contains a
chapter on animal health effects and one specifically on human health
effects. The report also identifies worker health, environmental, antibiotic
resistance, animal disease and "disposal" issues, along with socioeconomic
impacts on rural communities, and makes recommendations.
"Long-awaited Study of Animal Agriculture and Air Quality is Released," Farm
Progress, Rod Swoboda.
"Iowa Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Air Quality Study,"
Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, University of Iowa.
4. FSIS COUNTERS SLAUGHTER ASSERTIONS
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a letter to Burger
King, on Feb. 6th, stating that it is not increasing oversight of slaughter
operations in response to a petition filed by the company. FSIS had sent
Burger King a letter last month saying that it was granting the petition
(see back issue #51). Burger King released the initial letter to the news
media which generated substantial publicity. In the latest letter, FSIS
notes: "It appears that you misunderstood the agency's response to your
organization's petition....FSIS vigorously and aggressively enforces the
Humane Methods of Slaughter Act....your assertion that FSIS does not fully
enforce the HMSA is inaccurate." The agency is developing a proposed rule to
handling regulations but asserts that it is in response to an earlier FSIS
survey and report, and not to the petition.
"FSIS Says it is Not Granting Petition for Additional Humane Slaughter
Oversight," American Meat Industry News, February 19, 2002.
5. TEXAS SLAUGHTERPLANTS TARGETED
Inhumane and unsanitary conditions in Texas slaughterplants, including labor
concerns, are the subject of a media blitz. Home Justice Watch (HJW), a
Texas-based nonprofit has announced its "Eat Rights Project," a 3-week
campaign focusing on Tyson Foods/IBP and Pilgrims Pride. A HJW spokesperson
explained, "When consumers understand the direct connection between the meat
and chicken they are eating and the conditions under which the meat is
produced, we think consumers will demand change. If you trade and serve this
tainted food, we will hold you accountable." Both companies dispute the
charges and warn that HJW may be violating the Texas Agricultural
Disparagement Act, the same law which ranchers used to sue Oprah Winfrey and
Howard Lyman. The law makes it illegal to try to scare the public about
agricultural products. A Pilgrim's Pride spokesperson noted that its plants
are USDA inspected, and that it abides by industry guidelines. "Our chickens
are treated in a humane way before they're killed and in a very safe and
sanitary way after they're slaughtered. I would call these people
'terrorists,'" he said.
"Eat Rights Project' to Debut in Texas," PRNewswire, February 14, 2002.
"Group Assails Tyson/IBP, Pilgrim's Pride for 'Inhumane Slaughtering
Conditions,'" Meating Place News, Bryan Salvage, February 19, 2002.
6. 340,000 MORE CHICKENS TO BE GASSED IN HONG KONG
In the continuing effort to end the latest avian influenza outbreak, health
workers will gas to death another 340,000 chickens (see back issue #53). It
is anticipated that a total of 860,000 chickens will have been killed by
Friday. Unlike the 1997 and 2001 outbreaks, the government has not ordered
the death of all chickens but has quarantined more than 20 farms. Officials
have noted that cramming many birds into small cages and failure to clean
pens adequately may have caused the rapid spread of the disease. The
industry will receive $3.33 million in government compensation. Only 20% of
the 100,000 chickens consumed in Hong Kong every day are raised locally. The
rest are transported from mainland China. Inquiry results are expected in 6
"Hong Kong Kills More Chickens in Flu Outbreak," Reuters, February 20, 2002.
7. LIVE ANIMAL TRANSPORT: UK
Exports of live animals from the U.K. to continental Europe have begun again
following a halt due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak. Sheep were the first to
be shipped, and animal advocates fear they are being sent to France to be
ritually slaughtered for an annual Muslim festival. Campaigners warn that
resumption of the trade will result in a massive public outcry. Last week,
1,000 demonstrators in London peacefully protested against cruel transport
conditions and slaughter methods. The main ports and all the main ferry
companies had refused to transport the animals, so farmers hired their own
ferry. Activists are urging farmers to switch to production for the local
market. They will next target subsidies to sheep farmers who traffic in live
Meanwhile, efforts to improve transport standards for animals within the UK
have not been effective. An RSPCA survey of food retailers found less than
10% had encouraged transport welfare reforms following the foot-and-mouth
outbreak. The organization wants the government to impose an 8-hour travel
limit, and is urging the food industry to support local slaughterplants.
"Farmers resume trade in live animal exports," The Independent, Colin Brown,
"Plea made for higher standards in animal transport," Ananova, February 19,
8. LIVE ANIMAL TRANSPORT: U.S.
The U.S. Senate has accepted a proposal for a study to be done on the
feasibility of shipping live lambs to Afghanistan. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) put
forth the proposal both for long-term aid to Afghan people and to help U.S.
sheep ranchers. If the amendment passes, the USDA and USAID would report to
Congress in January 2004 as to the cost and logistics of the program, and
whether it had been implemented.
Meanwhile, the cattle industry is cautioning against the import of
Australian cattle. A spokesperson warned that "live animals would represent
a convenient vector for the deliberate introduction of foreign animal
diseases to the U.S." Domestic transport is also a threat to animal health.
A recent study showed that transporting cattle from feedlot to
slaughterplant increased Salmonella shedding on the body and in the feces
83% and 28%, respectively.
"Sheep Proposal May Benefit Afghans, Livestock Producers," AgWeb News, Darcy
Maulsby, February 13, 2002.
"Importing Foreign Cattle Could be Risky for U.S. Herds," Daily News, The
Meating Place, Bryan Salvage, February 19, 2002.
"Effects of the Transportation of Beef Cattle from the Feedyard to the
Packing Plant on Prevalence Levels of Escherichia Coli 0157 and Salmonella
SPP," The Journal of Food Protection, A.R. Barham et al., February 2002.