Animal Protection Organization Questions Secretary Veneman's Reassurances Regarding Food Safety
December 27, 2003
The letter from HSUS Senior Vice President Wayne Pacelle relayed the history of efforts by The HSUS and Farm Sanctuary (a New York-based farm animal welfare group) to ban the processing of downed animals. In 2002, both chambers of Congress passed amendments to the Farm Security Act restricting the transport of downed animals, but a conference committee nixed the provision. Earlier this year, the Senate passed an amendment banning the processing of downed animals for human consumption, but the House rejected similar language by just three votes. A conference committee struck the downed animal language on Dec. 9th - the very day that the Holstein infected with Mad Cow Disease was processed in Washington state.
"The Humane Society of the United States urges Secretary Veneman to exercise her clear authority to immediately ban the processing of downed farm animals for human consumption," said Pacelle. "There is massive public support for this policy, and the linkage between downed animals and Mad Cow disease is now undeniable. To allow the continued processing of downed and diseased animals for human consumption is reckless and irresponsible."
According to USDA, there are perhaps 130,000 to 190,000 animals that go down every year and cannot stand up again that are presented at slaughterhouses. According to the best estimates provided by USDA for 1999 - 2001, nearly three quarters of these animals are processed for human food - often on the basis of only a visual inspection at slaughterhouses. Even with the stepped-up testing program of the USDA, only 10-15 percent of downed animals are being tested for BSE.
"Secretary Veneman is emphasizing to Americans that our food supply is safe, yet with only 10-15 percent of the animals most at risk for mad cow disease are being tested. Her reassurances are clearly more an expression of personal faith, rather than a reflection of sound policy," said Pacelle.
The HSUS has long argued that downed animals are among the most abused of animals in industrial agriculture. They are often dragged by chains or pushed with bulldozers to get them into a slaughterhouse.
The Humane Society of the United
States (HSUS) is the nation's largest animal protection organization
with over seven million members and constituents. The HSUS is
a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion
animals, wildlife, animals in research and farm animals and sustainable
agriculture. For nearly 50 years, The HSUS has protected all
animals through legislation, litigation, investigation, education,
advocacy and field work. The non- profit organization is based
in Washington, D.C. and has 10 regional offices across the country.
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