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USDA to tighten cow slaughter rules

May 21, 2008 |  3:48 pm


The government plans to close a loophole in meat inspection rules that led to the record recall of 143 million pounds of ground beef this year. The Baltimore Sun's Jonathan D. Rockoff reports:

The Department of Agriculture will prohibit meat plants from slaughtering any cow that can't stand and walk on its own at any point after it arrives at a plant, Schafer said.

The rule would eliminate existing provisions that allow plants to send "downer," or sick, cows to slaughter if they fall ill after passing an initial inspection and then pass a second inspection.

"I believe it is sound policy to simplify this matter by initiating a complete ban on the slaughter of cattle that go down after an initial inspection," [Agriculture Secretary Edward T.] Schafer said in a statement. The new rule should be in effect by the end of the year.

The revision of the rules was prompted by an undercover Humane Society video showing abuse of sick cows at Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. in Chino that lead to a massive recall earlier this year.

-Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Cezaro De Luca/EPA

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