USDA clears California slaughterhouse accused of abuse to reopen

McDonald's cuts ties with a California slaughterhouse accused of abusing cows.
(Tim Boyle / Getty Images)

Central Valley Meat Co., the California slaughterhouse shut down by regulators last week after undercover video footage showed apparent animal abuse, reopened Monday morning after promising to change its ways.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it had “concluded its evaluation of the extensive corrective action plan” submitted by the slaughterhouse to address “recent humane handling violations.”

The company, according to the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, will add more training for employees along with other safeguards to ensure that “only ambulatory animals are processed.”

Workers will not be allowed to pull, drag or lift the cows, and may use electric or vibrating prods only sparingly, and never on sensitive body parts such as the face, the slaughterhouse promised.

Regulators had temporarily suspended operations at Central Valley Meat amid concerns that so-called downer cattle – cows unable to move, sometimes due to illness or lameness – were illegally being sent into the human food chain.


The investigation into the alleged food safety violations will continue. The company is still barred from supplying meat to federal food programs such as the National School Lunch Program.

Last week, several of Central Valley Meat’s corporate customers severed ties with the slaughterhouse after a video from animal rights advocacy group Compassion Over Killing showed animals being shocked, shot and otherwise treated cruelly.

Hamburger chains In-N-Out, McDonald’s, Jack in the Box and Burger King – who had either direct or indirect supply arrangements with Central Valley Meat – said last week that they would no longer accept products from the plant.


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