Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

June 13, 2002                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Issue #72


1. World Hunger Solutions Disputed
2. Albertson's And Kroger Agree to Animal Welfare Standards
3. A Ban on Branding?
4. Taking The Trauma Out of Weaning
5. Turkeys Scalded to Death
6. Des Moines Register Examines Heartland Pork
7. The Ethics of Eating
8. Can Americans "Sue Their Own Fat Asses Off?"
9. Animal Rights 2002 Conference

The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is holding its anti-hunger World Food Summit in Rome this week. At the last Summit, held 5 years ago, the delegates committed themselves to halving the number of hungry people in the world (800 million) by 2015. The subsequent average annual reduction of this number by 8 million shows the declaration is failing. Impoverished nations are calling for lowered trade barriers against food imports and reducing subsidies in the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. is calling for increased agricultural production through the use of technologies, including biotechnology. The leaders of wealthy nations were noticeably absent with lesser representatives sent in their stead. Summit leaders feasted on foie gras, goose fillet and lobster.
A commentary on the Summit by Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, was published in the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian (London). He explains the inefficiencies and other problems with producing feed grain instead of food grain, noting that "Tragically, 80% of the world's hungry children live in countries with food surpluses, much of which is in the form of feed fed to animals [who] will be eaten by well-to-do consumers." International charity Oxfam has released a report entitled "Rigged Rules and Double Standards" which accuses rich nations of robbing the poor of $100 billion a year by abusing world trade rules. See:    
"World Hunger Talks Start with Lobster and Foie Gras," The Times of London, Richard Owen, June 11, 2002.,,3-323208,00.html
"The world's problems on a plate," The Guardian, Jeremy Rifkin, May 17, 2002. ,4273,4415252,00.html
World Food Summit Project, The Global Hunger Alliance.

Major grocery retailers Kroger and Albertson's have joined Safeway in announcing that they will require their suppliers to comply with animal welfare standards. All three companies will be following the guidelines being developed by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). The Institute, in conjunction with the National Council of Chain Restaurants, has been working on guidelines which address breeding, handling, and processing practices. They are to be released this summer. PETA, which has been leading the campaign to get food retailers to make welfare demands, wants the companies to conduct unannounced inspections and ensure the standards are enforced.
Albertson's to follow stricter rules on animals: Competitors also to OK guidelines on processing," Idaho Statesman, Sat, 1 Jun 2002.
"Albertson's Applauds and Supports Animal Welfare Guidelines Developed by the Food Marketing Institute," Albertson's press release, May 31, 2002.
"Kroger to follow animals standard," The Cincinnati Post, Greg Paeth, June 1, 2002.

Major restaurant and grocery chains will meet this summer to consider a ban on buying meat from companies that brand cattle. Applebee's had written a letter to its suppliers asking that they refuse beef from companies that brand cattle, and Burger King has already urged its suppliers to stop branding. (Applebee's is currently reviewing its requirements. See back issue #62.) The beef industry is revising its care and handling guidelines with an eye toward making them more specific. Regarding branding, it plans to make recommendations based on industry needs and the best interests of cattle. Several states require that all cattle grazed on open range be branded. An estimated 50% of U.S. cattle are branded, some more than once.
In addition to demands by animal protection advocates, the industry needs to find a better identification method in order to be competitive in the world market where animal ID and traceback is increasingly required. The worldwide trend is rapidly moving toward mandatory electronic identification systems, despite vehement objections from factions in the U.S. A 1999 article entitled, "Identification, Please," explains the various systems used in other countries, including a French system that includes a barcode which enables supermarket customers to see the breed, origin and history of the animal. An alternative system used in Iowa is also described. According to an industry representative, "establishing an animal identification system and modernizing ID methods and technology must be a major priority for our industry in the next 24 to 36 months." A Senate bill to improve meat safety by mandating farmed animal ID is being opposed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. NCBA opposes any mandatory ID program that will prove costly and that fails to improve traceback performance over existing systems. 
"Ranchers Feeling the Heat," The Los Angeles Times, Stephanie Simon, June 8, 2002.
"The Heat is On," Beef Magazine, Diana Barto, June 1, 2002.
"Seeking Quality Assurance," Beef Times, Willie Vogt, June 10, 2002.;jsessionid=WOKAFJHZBLYUSCQBAM4CFEQ?article_id=1007178
"Identification, Please," Beef Magazine, Warren Kester, January 1, 1999
"Bill Calling for ID is Unnecessary Legislation," National Cattlemen's Beef Association, May 29, 2002

Separating cow and calf during the weaning process with a fence that still allows them to interact is advantageous to the conventional system of removing the calf to a feedlot. Calves able to see and hear their mothers were found to be 20-25 pounds heavier after 10 weeks in comparison to calves who could not. Researchers at the U. of California attribute this to the reduction of trauma from separation and dietary and environmental changes. Unlike conventional weaning, fence line weaning caused very few behavioral signs of distress, even during the initial days of separation. The risk of lung infection is also thought to be higher in calves moved to a feedlot than in those allowed to remain on pasture. UC advisor Glen Nader explains, "When they are bellowing all day in a dusty environment they are bound to get bacteria in their lungs."
"Stress Keep It In Sight," Beef Today, Ed Haag, May 2002.

Canada's largest poultry company has pled guilty to causing "avoidable distress and pain," in violation of the country's Meat Inspection Act, after 284 live turkeys were scalded to death. The birds were to have their throats cut and be bled to death prior to being scalded but the worker assigned to do the cutting was not on duty. Instead, they went through a stunning device and regained consciousness before being immersed into scalding water. Investigators said the January 2nd incident happened in a period of about 15 minutes. The company, Lilydale Co-operative Ltd.,  was fined $2,500 (Canadian). According to its lawyers, equipment has since been set up in the British Columbia plant to ensure the line can't run unless a person is in the throat-cutting ("sticker") position and working. [In the U.S., birds are not covered by the Humane Slaughter Act and there is no provision for their humane treatment in the Poultry Inspection Act.]   
"Turkey kill changed," Edmonton News, David Sands, June 11, 2002.

Heartland Pork, one of Iowa's largest pig production companies, is the subject of a contentious debate. The company has 61,000 sows and sold 1.2 million pigs last year. It has 550 employees "90 percent of whom have grown up on family farms" and 200 "farmer-growers" working in rural Iowa. The company calls itself a family operation, its critics call it a factory farm corporation. An extensive article on Heartland intersperses the debate with verbal sketches of what life is like for the pigs of Heartland. There is also a shorter accompanying piece on pig meat prices, promotions and trade.
"This hog farm went to market," Chad Graham, June 9, 2002 and "Hog price on menu for lunch," Philip Brasher, June 7, 2002, The Des Moines Register.
In an extensive 3-part series, the National Catholic Reporter examines food production. The first part, "Food: An overview," examines environmental effects, food quality and taste, food safety, social justice, cruelty to animals, and food monopolies. It includes a section entitled "Vote with your fork," and links to related sites. The second part examines the demise of small family farms. Part 3 considers grass-roots solutions to counter directions in food production and distribution that are perceived to be destructive. A reading list is also included.
"The Ethics of Eating," National Catholic Reporter, Rich Heffern, May 24, 2002.

John Banzhaf pioneered the notion of suing tobacco companies for the health consequences of smoking. A vegan student in his graduate class on legal activism, at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., inspired the case which resulted in McDonald's paying $10 million to vegetarian groups for having used beef fat to flavor french fries (see issue #60). Banzhaf's is now looking at taking on the entire junk-food industry. This lengthy article explains the strategies he is devising to see if, as he puts it, "Americans can sue their own fat asses off."
"Fast Food Nation: An appetite for litigation," The Independent, Andrew Gumbel, June 4, 2002.
(Thanks goes to Karen James for bringing this article to our attention.)

The annual national animal rights conference will again take place in McLean, Va., June 28-July 3rd. The program will feature 120 presentations, 5 plenary sessions, 100 Workshops, 50 campaign reports, and 16 "Rap Sessions." There will also be 80 exhibits, 100 videos, a newcomer orientation, an awards banquet, planning meetings, an employment clearinghouse, and a march on Washington. For the program schedule and other information visit: