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Meat From Dying, Sick Or Diseased Cows Getting into Food2002

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Manitoba_Rancher

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Meat From Dying, Sick Or Diseased Cows Getting into Food 2002 :( :(
Chris Halsne
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter

A KIRO Team 7 Investigation discovers an explosive story about meat from dying, sick or diseased cows getting into your food.

Some images are exceptionally disturbing and may be upsetting, especially to children.

Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne spent six months under cover, exposing something the meat industry would rather keep secret from consumers.

They're called "downers," getting that name because healthy cattle walk into the slaughterhouse but the "downers" are too ill or injured to do so.

Video shot by KIRO Team 7 Investigators raises serious questions about the quality or safety of this kind of beef.

We've seen a healthy cow, one you might expect to become steak some day.

Downers, however, are delivered by pick-up truck to slaughter horizontally, in a pile of manure. This meat gets to your dinner plate with the help of some hoisting and dragging.

Gaylis Linville wonders how downers can become food. She's a consumer expert of sorts when it comes to food safety. Her son, Max, nearly died from an E. coli-contaminated Jack in the Box hamburger.

She was surprised to learn from our videotape that sick, diseased, or injured dairy cattle still make their way into federally-inspected slaughterhouses.

"I don't understand how it can be accepted and ground up into the food supply. It seems like that type of animal should go to a rendering plant," Linville says.

The US Department of Agriculture labels downers "high-risk or suspect" but under proper inspection allows their use for hamburger, soups and hot dogs.

That's a dangerous practice, according to former USDA veterinarian Dr. Lester Friedlander. He trained federal meat inspectors for years, and has personally examined hundreds of thousands of downers.

"If it was up to me, I'd probably condemn all downers because I wouldn't want to take the chance of my family eating it," Dr. Friedlander says.

Federal law is clear: livestock found in a dying condition shall be condemned and disposed. Dr Friedlander says federal meat inspectors routinely ignore that segment of the food safety regulation under pressure from plant owners and the USDA.

That brings us back to our surveillance video. KIRO Team 7 Investigators recorded several hours worth of downer transactions at Midway Meats in Chehalis. A number of animals we saw enter the plant were too sick or injured to even stand up.

We asked Friedlander and another former USDA vet to review large portions of our unedited tape.

"After looking at a tape like this you ask 'Where do you think fecal contamination comes from? Is this a good source? Obviously, it is a good source, the main source.'"

Friedlander isn't offended by unconscious cows hanging by their necks, but is outraged he doesn't see white-coated federal meat inspectors doing their jobs. He says if the downers we videotaped were healthy enough to eat, the USDA inspector wouldn't know it.

Midway Meats says our videotape doesn't tell the whole story. Some cows may look lifeless, but that's because they were stunned with a captive bolt gun while inside the trailer, where we couldn't see.

Owners of the plant also say USDA vets examined the animals inside the trailers. Again, that's something we didn't see.

Bill Sexsmith owns Midway Meats.

"I have every confidence in the world that the meat that goes through is absolutely safe," Sexsmith says.

He says USDA vets review all his downer business and do a good job at disqualifying diseased animals.

"It has to be done effectively or they'll tag us and we can't continue to operate."

Sexsmith says federal meat inspectors do a quick health check in his parking lot but normally retest downers inside the plant as well. Some national experts like Dr. Friedlander tell KIRO Team 7 Investigators the risks of processing downers at all are just too great.

"If you take care of the downers, you'd probably see a lower incidence of these outbreaks of E. Coli," Friedlander says.

Gaylis Linville, who watched her son suffer for three months from E. Coli, would love to see downer meat banned.

"There's not anything here to debate. Clearly it's a sick animal being dragged into a slaughterhouse and USDA inspectors are just turning the other cheek and letting this occur!" she says.

Midway Meats owner Bill Sexsmith says he's unaware of any consumer complaints regarding quality or safety of his products.

We repeatedly asked the USDA to comment on the apparent lack of proper outside inspection by their vets, but so far, nothing.

Congress recently banned the use of downer meat in the federal school lunch program. However, there is no current requirement for meat processors inform consumers about downer meat or label packages that may contain it.

If you want to comment on the use of downers to Congressional members on the Agriculture Committee, send them an email
 

Jinglebob

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Accountability.

Can you see someone advertizing, "We use only the best cripples in our hamburger"?

I was told by a man who had cattle at a feedlot, that he told the feedlot operaters not to sell any of his cattle who were downers. The feedlot owner told him, "I have a 100,000 head of cattle here. 1 % become downers. Thats a lot of cattle to dispose of and I have no way to do it, but to send them to the slaughter plant. So I will do the same with yours."

Out here in the country, when something gets sick and dies, I can just drag it to the dead pile for the varmints. But there are lots of places where that can't be done.

I had a well known salebarn person here looking at yearlings. He wanted my guy to send the yearlings to his salebarn. He noticed that I had a big ol' corrientee steer, who I had used as a lead steer, and the steer had a bad lump jaw. He asked what I was going to do with him and I told him that I was going to shoot him and put him out of his misery, and I felt bad that I hadn't gotten it done yet.

He told me to send him to the salebarn and I could get 40 to 50 cents a pound for him. I find that disgusting. If it's not good enough to butcher for my family, than it's not good enough for anyone else. If it was going for pet food that would be a different story, but I'm afraid we all eat a lot of that stuff all the time. And I am sure that it is probably safe, but I don't think I would enjoy the meat for thinking about the lump jaw. Or a cancer eye.

I have butchered a fat yearling who accidently broke his leg, but to me that is totally different and my butcher would throw out any meat that came from the boken leg that didn't look good. But you know what, I sure didn't enjoy that meat too much. Maybe I'm just too fussy!

If we don't police ourselves and think only of profit, we will be policed by others. And we won't like it.

This is very similar as to what happened at that prison in Iraq. They should have taken everyone involved and canned them, clear to the top. How are we going to be able to convince consumers that we are above board and doing a good job, if they see stories like this one posted above. We should be tyhe first to condemn this practice. It was taken out of context and the beef was probably safe and good to eat, but we have to live under a microscope and be accountable for what we do and what we raise. And we should be the first ones to condemn anyone along the production line who follows unappetizing and unsafe practices.

And of course this all brings to mind the old saying, "those who respect the law and like sausage, should never watch either being made."
 

Broke Cowboy

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JB

Your comments make for an interesting read.

If it's not good enough to butcher for my family, than it's not good enough for anyone else.

That is my benchmark as well. Good to know that there are people out there who think alike. When I sit down and tuck into a big roast or a plate filling steak, I KNOW it was healthy - right from start to finish. And, I know what it ate - every step of the way.

I have butchered a fat yearling who accidently broke his leg, but to me that is totally different and my butcher would throw out any meat that came from the boken leg that didn't look good. But you know what, I sure didn't enjoy that meat too much. Maybe I'm just too fussy!

Fussy? Nope - not at all. My belief is there will be a "taste" to anything that has been injured. Yeah, the rules say you can eat it - but I want 'em completely mobile up to the time they are killed. I am no taste expert, and some might say it is all in the mind - but that's my thoughts.

Seems like our tables are similar.

Regards

BC
 
A

Anonymous

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Jinglebob said:
BC;

We are "muy sympatico amigo"! :D

Vaya con Dios. :)


Reminds me of the stories coming out of the GAO investigations and the day(s) old dead cattle that were cut up in the Mexican butcher shops- then shipped into the US with a USDA stamp as a US product- which were then possibly funneled into Canada to mix with the quality meat to make those hot dogs and hamburger :roll:
 

Les

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wish everyone would think like jingle bob.would make for a better world
 

Jinglebob

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OOOOO, Les! Now thats just plain scarey!!!! :shock: :lol:

I can give some references who would strongly disagree!! :lol:

But thanks fer the complement!

Maybe you ought to ask MRJ or SH's opinion! :shock: :lol:
 

frenchie

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Jinglebob said:
Accountability.

Can you see someone advertizing, "We use only the best cripples in our hamburger"?

I was told by a man who had cattle at a feedlot, that he told the feedlot operaters not to sell any of his cattle who were downers. The feedlot owner told him, "I have a 100,000 head of cattle here. 1 % become downers. Thats a lot of cattle to dispose of and I have no way to do it, but to send them to the slaughter plant. So I will do the same with yours."

Out here in the country, when something gets sick and dies, I can just drag it to the dead pile for the varmints. But there are lots of places where that can't be done.

I had a well known salebarn person here looking at yearlings. He wanted my guy to send the yearlings to his salebarn. He noticed that I had a big ol' corrientee steer, who I had used as a lead steer, and the steer had a bad lump jaw. He asked what I was going to do with him and I told him that I was going to shoot him and put him out of his misery, and I felt bad that I hadn't gotten it done yet.

He told me to send him to the salebarn and I could get 40 to 50 cents a pound for him. I find that disgusting. If it's not good enough to butcher for my family, than it's not good enough for anyone else. If it was going for pet food that would be a different story, but I'm afraid we all eat a lot of that stuff all the time. And I am sure that it is probably safe, but I don't think I would enjoy the meat for thinking about the lump jaw. Or a cancer eye.

I have butchered a fat yearling who accidently broke his leg, but to me that is totally different and my butcher would throw out any meat that came from the boken leg that didn't look good. But you know what, I sure didn't enjoy that meat too much. Maybe I'm just too fussy!

If we don't police ourselves and think only of profit, we will be policed by others. And we won't like it.

This is very similar as to what happened at that prison in Iraq. They should have taken everyone involved and canned them, clear to the top. How are we going to be able to convince consumers that we are above board and doing a good job, if they see stories like this one posted above. We should be tyhe first to condemn this practice. It was taken out of context and the beef was probably safe and good to eat, but we have to live under a microscope and be accountable for what we do and what we raise. And we should be the first ones to condemn anyone along the production line who follows unappetizing and unsafe practices.

And of course this all brings to mind the old saying, "those who respect the law and like sausage, should never watch either being made."

good post
 

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