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March 14, 2009

Sick, Hurt Cows Not Allowed Into Slaughterhouse

Sickly and hurt cows will not be permitted to walk into U.S. slaughterhouses, the Agriculture Department announced on Saturday, a year after the U.S.'s biggest meat recall inspired the change.

The USDA projected a complete stop to all "downer" cattle from being killed in May 2008, only three months after a film found workers at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing plant in California pushing ill and injured cows into the slaughterhouse.

After the film was made public, Hallmark recalled 143 million pounds of meat, the biggest meat recall ever in the U.S.

"This rule is designed to enhance consumer confidence and humane handling standards and will provide clear guidance that non-ambulatory cattle will not be allowed to enter the human food supply," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement.

"It is a step forward for both food safety and the standards for humane treatment of animals."

Before the new proposition, the majority of these kinds of cattle were prohibited from being slaughtered, but USDA let it occur to some of the animals that were too injured to walk. Packers were obligated to contact USDA veterinarians in those instances so the cows could be re-inspected prior to their slaughter.

Approximately 2,700 of the 34 million cattle killed in 2007 were reinspected before being killed. Only 1,000 were permitted to enter the slaughterhouse, says the USDA.

The ban against killing downer cattle is a safeguard against contracting the mad cow disease.


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