Humane Society of the United States Calls on FDA, USDA, Congress to Halt Slaughter of Diseased Livestock

January 31, 2002 U.S. Newswire
In light of heightened security measures recommended recently by the Food and Drug Administration, The Humane Society of the United States is calling for the end of the processing of diseased and dying animals for human food, stating that these conditions could mask intentional inoculation of livestock with diseases or toxins.

"The threat of bioterrorism adds one more reason to end the use of nonambulatory animals in human food. An animal that is unable to walk because of illness should probably not be processed for human food consumption, regardless of whether the animal was intentionally or unintentionally contaminated. As long as the USDA continues to slaughter diseased livestock, it is possible that a bioterrorist attack could make people very sick and undermine confidence in American agriculture," said Dr. Frank Garry, DVM. Dr. Garry is the coordinator for the Integrated Livestock Management Program in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. Contrary to its reputation as a stamp of approval, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors can't possibly ensure the absolute safety of the meat supply. Inspectors routinely test for only a handful of diseases if an animal is exhibiting symptoms of illness. Those diseases include Mad Cow Disease, Foot-and-Mouth Disease and other diseases that are highly contagious or would have a significant negative economic impact. Dr. Garry provided The HSUS with a laundry list of potential poisons that could be fed to cattle but might not be detected by USDA inspectors. Under current regulations, those animals could be processed for human consumption.

The HSUS points out that the USDA must stop processing diseased and injured animals for human food if they are to implement a thorough plan to protect consumers.

Wayne Pacelle, senior vice president for the HSUS stated, "As long as our slaughterhouses continue to process thousands of animals afflicted with such devastating illnesses and injuries that they are unable to walk, trying to identify an animal who has been purposefully poisoned or inoculated with a disease that is harmful to consumers is like looking for a needle in a haystack." The USDA estimates that 130,000 non-ambulatory animals are processed nationwide each year, a tiny fraction of the total number of livestock.

Both House and Senate farm bills include provisions to require the euthanasia of non-ambulatory animals when they are brought to market, but Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) filed an amendment in December that would weaken the provision and he may continue his efforts when the farm bill returns to the floor of the senate.

Gene Bauston, executive director of Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal welfare organization that has recently filed a lawsuit against the USDA for knowingly approving diseased animals for slaughter, stated, "I think that consumers would be appalled to learn that they are eating sick and diseased animals. With this additional threat of bioterrorism, perhaps Congress will finally act to end the unhealthy and cruel practice of slaughtering sick and injured animals." CONTACT: Rachel Querry of The Humane Society of the United States, 301-258-8255

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