WASHINGTON — In a statement that could lead to congressional speculation that oversight is lax and U.S. Department of Agriculture violations are widespread in the nation's meat-processing industry, the Humane Society of the United States — during a press conference last week with Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and George Miller, D-Calif. — claimed that the Hallmark/Westland Packing Plant in Chino, Calif., was chosen at random for its recent undercover investigation, which obtained video footage that has since led the plant to recall 143 million pounds of beef.
“There are 6,200 facilities across the country that the USDA inspects, and we chose this one and found egregious abuses that USDA, the Humane Society of the U.S., the cattlemen and really every other entity that has commented on the footage [describes] as deplorable,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of HSUS, Washington. “The fact that we selected this [facility] at random I think is troubling.”
The footage shows cows that are unable to walk being shocked with cattle prods, dragged with chains and pushed with forklifts — clear violations of the USDA's rules against processing “downer” cattle. In addition to the recall, the video has led San Bernardino County's district attorney to file felony animal cruelty charges against two employees of the plant.