Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

April 17, 2002                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Issue #63



1. Frontline Examines Modern Meat
2. Concerns Increasing With Aquaculture's Growth
3. Soy Milk Showdown
4. McDonald's' Initiatives
5. More Info on Food Industry Animal Welfare Standards
6. Temple Talks
7. USDA Pig Survey
8. Welfare of Animals During Transport: Europe 

This Thursday, April 18th, Frontline, the PBS documentary program, will examine the food safety hazards posed by today's highly-industrialized meat industry. Cattle are followed from the ranch to the feedlot to the "dis-assembly" line. The industry's attempts to resist government regulations are also examined. Following the broadcast, the Frontline web site will feature extensive additional information at:
Meat & Poultry Magazine's annual ranking of the top North American meat and poultry companies can be accessed at:

In the last decade, aquaculture's global yield has more than doubled to 35.6 million tons a year. About a third of the seafood consumed in the U.S., including nearly all of the catfish and trout and about two-thirds of the salmon and shrimp, is from captive-raised animals. Concerns about the environmental and consumer health impacts of farmed fish are also increasing, particularly regarding foreign operations. Herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics and other drugs are all used in aquaculture, and federal inspection is lacking. In the U.S., the FDA doesn't inspect fish farms but instead checks on processors and warehouses every few years. Examples of problematic practices and incidences involving foreign aquaculture are included in the article. On April 15th, the USDA announced it would purchase up to $6 million of catfish products to boost the depressed catfish industry.
Up to 120,000 pounds of Arctic char were killed recently when the electricity was cut at a failing operation in Brookvale, Canada. The alarm of a back-up electrical generation system, which would have continued to provide the fish with oxygen, failed to operate. Noting that the fish died an agonizing death of suffocation, the executive director of the Prince Edward Island Humane Society is calling for legislative measures to prevent it from happening again.
"A Bumper Crop," The Los Angeles Times, Melinda Fulmer, April 14, 2002.
"USDA to buy up to $6 mln catfish to help farmers," Reuters Worldwide, April 15, 2002.
"Fish need legislative protection: Humane Society," The Journal-Pioneer, Jim Brown, April 14, 2002.{CB18BCE9-247F-4459-9403-3B76A6ABBD2B}

Offering soy milk in school lunches is the latest battle in the multibillion-dollar "milk war" between the dairy industry and its increasing critics. Many school systems would like to offer soy milk. However, cow's milk is required by law as part of the federally assisted meal program which provide more than half of some school systems' cafeteria funding. Unless students provide a doctor's note, schools won't be reimbursed for soy milk. An estimated 30 to 50 million Americans are unable to digest lactose, a milk sugar. School officials say that requiring students to get a doctor's note is burdensome and shouldn't be necessary. The dairy industry argues that milk is nutritionally unmatched by most soy milks and lactose intolerance isn't as big a problem as it is made out to be. The USDA determines which foods should be included in the school lunch program. In October 2000 it was ruled that the agency had violated federal conflict-of-interest laws in appointing people with meat- and dairy-industry ties to its dietary guidelines committee. The USDA is planning to hold "listening sessions" across the country this year prior to reauthorizing its National School Lunch Program. Revisions to the guidelines will go before Congress for approval next year.
The National Dairy Council's "Got Milk?" campaign is also under fire. Last year, $180 million was spent on promoting milk in the media and in schools. Opponents say no other product gets to market itself so directly to students. On the flip side, the rising popularity of soy milk caused the dairy industry to file a complaint with the FDA barring the soy industry from using the term "milk." The complaint is pending.
"Got Soy? Not in School Lunch," The Washington Post, Emily Wax, April 14, 2002.

National Public Radio (NPR)'s news program, "All Things Considered," featured an extensive story on McDonald's new animal welfare standards. The primary focus was on the company's requirements for egg suppliers. Animal scientist Joy Mench noted conditions which have improved for the hens and deprivations to which they are still subjected. The entire piece is available, both in print and audio at: The site also contains slides and an excerpt from philosopher Peter Singer's book about early negotiations by Henry Spira and Mr. Singer with McDonald's.
The "McVeggie Burger," the first vegetarian burger offered by McDonald's in North America, is being test marketed in Vancouver, B.C. If the 45-day test proves successful, the burger will be offered across Canada beginning in June. Yves Veggie Cuisine is supplying the burgers, which are only being advertised at the outlets where they are offered. Responding to criticism that the company was now "in bed with ‘the cow killers,'" an Yves spokesperson said, "If we can convince people that this is a great-tasting burger, then they're going to have to stop killing cows to make the other kind." 
McDonald's has released a 46-page report touting its social responsibility. The report, a first for the company, expounds on its record of animal welfare, environmentalism and employee relations. Company analysts say that its primary business of selling beef, an environmentally consumptive product, is McDonald's weakest point. The report is available at: 
"McVeggie Burger gets B.C. taste test," Vancouver Sun, Nicholas Read, April 17, 2002.{D0CC614D-B226-4677-B83B-89217CAB7E9E}
"McDonald's Touts Record on Social Issues," ABC News, Deborah Cohen, April 14, 2002.



Extensive background information on the development of farmed animal welfare standards by the leading fast-food restaurant chains is contained in "Farm Animal Welfare News." Alberta Farm Animal Care produces the publication. The current issue also includes, among other subjects, information on dehorning, the handling of unfit animals, labeling of alternative products, and the welfare of genetically altered animals. It can be accessed at:
Information on the farmed animal welfare standards being formulated for suppliers of restaurant chains and grocery stores, including an interim report, can be found at:

"All Things Considered" will continue its animal welfare series (see item #1) with a profile of Dr. Temple Grandin. She is a farmed animal handling expert and a key figure in the development of farmed animal welfare standards. The program is scheduled to air next week (probably Monday, April 22nd).
Dr. Grandin will be participating in an interactive online discussion about pig handling and stunning techniques on Tuesday, April 23rd from 11 to 12 EST. Questions can be submitted in advance.
"Ask the Expert," American Meat Institute.
"Temple Grandin at the Slaughterhouse, American Radio Works, Daniel Zwerdling, April, 2002.

The USDA's Swine 2000 Survey of 895 pig operations provides a snapshot of diseases and vaccination and antibiotic treatment among breeding herds. The most common health problems were roundworms and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS). The latter was more common at large operations. The disease was also found in preweaned pigs at 11% of sites. Over 60% of all sites gave sows antibiotics to treat diseases. At medium and large operations, more than 80% of the sows were treated with antibiotics. 
"Herd Treatment Strategies Profiled," National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle, March 15, 2002.

The European Commission has adopted the findings of a report on animal welfare during transport. The Commission's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare prepared the report. It provides a detailed review of current knowledge on welfare factors affecting horses, cattle, sheep and pigs during transport. Specific recommendations are made on such issues as loading methods and densities, travel times, resting periods, and the intervals at which animals should be given water and fed. The role of transport in relation to disease is also included. A prohibition on the transport of very young animals is advised, and the importance of personnel training is stressed. The report also recommends that taking out insurance against the consequences of practices which result in poor welfare should not be possible for animal transporters. The findings will be considered by the Commission for follow-up proposals. The report can be accessed at:
"Recommendations on transport," Comment, The Veterinary Record, April 13, 2002.
"Scientific Committee adopted opinion on animal welfare during transport," Daily News, The Pig Site, March 21, 2002.