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McDonald's, USDA halt buying from Central Valley slaughterhouse

August 23, 2012 | 11:33 am

The federal government and McDonald's Corp. have suspended purchases from a Central Valley slaughterhouse after video footage surfaced showing what investigators called "unacceptable treatment" of cattle.

No recall has been ordered, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture—which shut down the Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford on Monday—confirmed to The Times it had halted purchases from the company during its investigation.

The government bought about 21 million pounds of meat from the company in 2011, nearly 16% of its total beef purchased.

"While some of the footage provided from this facility shows unacceptable treatment of cattle, it does not show anything that would compromise food safety," the agency said in a statement. "However, we are aggressively continuing our investigation.”

McDonald's also cut off its purchases from the company, pending the outcome of the investigation.

"There are behaviors in the video which appear to be unacceptable and would not adhere to the standards we demand of our suppliers," the fast-food giant said in a statement.

Irvine-based In-N-Out Burger cut off its supplier agreement with Central Valley Meat earlier this week, saying it does not condone animal cruelty from its suppliers.

Federal investigators went to the plant Friday to review two videos captured by the animal rights group Compassion Over Killing. The group said the footage—taken by one of its contractors who worked inside the plant in June and July—shows cows being shot, electronically shocked and led to slaughter even when they were unable to walk.

Federal inspectors called the footage "disturbing" but were still trying to determine if meat from injured or disabled cows had entered the food supply—an act that would violate federal food safety regulations and mandate a recall. Officials said the video showed no evidence of this happening.

Central Valley Meat is cooperating fully with federal officials, company President Brian Coelho said in a statement, and has hired an animal welfare expert to conduct a separate internal investigation.


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