30 June 2011

Non-profit group encourages retailers to consider animal welfare

Recently Cathy Liss, president of the non-profit Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), penned a letter urging restaurants and retail establishments to proactively monitor the animal welfare record of their meat suppliers and to cease doing business with facilities that continually fail to comply with federal humane slaughter law.

To help assist retailers in this endeavor, AWI has compiled and posted a list of slaughterhouses that have qualified as repeat offenders of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

"Consumers are increasingly aware that they hold the power to impact animals' lives through their food choices, and they want retailers to only offer products from humanely treated animals," said AWI president Cathy Liss. "Until now, unless a retailer conducted its own audits, it had little or no information about a producer's animal welfare record to help the retailer make purchasing decisions. AWI is now making that information available to retailers and consumers alike."

From a large (500 or more employees) plant in Iowa that was cited 13 times in one year to a very small (under 10 employees) plant in North Carolina that racked up 6 suspensions in 18 months, the list is a who’s who of inhumane slaughterhouses.

The aforementioned plant in Iowa was dinged once when a pig died by “means other than humane slaughter” in which it is believed the animal perished in a scalding tank.

But the facility in the “Tar Heel State” makes the Iowa operation seem docile in comparison.

According to USDA inspectors, five incidences involved a “stun mishap in which an animal was injured by multiple unsuccessful stun attempts, but was left conscious.”

The remaining occurrence takes the cruelty cake.

An inspector viewed an employee repeatedly bashing a disabled pig with a barrel lid while standing on a loading dock.

The hog was sitting up but unable to stand on its back legs. The animal squealed each time it was hit with the lid. When the hog reached the top of the ramp leading to the lower pen area the USDA inspector witnessed this same employee then kick the hog and it squealed loudly as it slid half way down the ramp.

Since it appears society’s need for flesh won’t come to an end anytime soon, the best we can do is hold retailers accountable for their supply choices.

In light of yet another undercover investigation revealing unfathomable factory farm brutality, the demand for this accountability should continually increase over time —hopefully.

Eric Fortney | @elfortney | email
Eric is the co-founder and executive editor of the animal rights and eco-friendly news source, This Dish Is Veg. In addition to his work at TDIV, Eric is a father of three, runner, and lover of the outdoors.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/trancemist