Facility resumes operations a week after USDA closed it down amid video allegations of dairy cow abuse. Company still suspended from supplying meat to federal food programs.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) yesterday lifted the suspension it issued to Central Valley Meat Co. on August 19, allowing the company to resume operations this morning.
The Hanford, Calif., meat plant was granted permission to re-open after USDA concluded its evaluation of an extensive action plan submitted Thursday by Central Valley Meat Company to correct recent humane handling violations.
The resumption of business comes a week after FSIS withdrew its inspectors and closed down the plant after an undercover video released by animal activists showed dairy cows allegedly being abused in Central Valley Meat Co.’s slaughter operations.
Central Valley Meat said it has worked closely with both inspectors and industry experts while developing its USDA-approved action plan. “Central Valley Meat is a family-run business with deep roots in this community, and we’re especially thankful that our 450 hard-working men and women can finally return to their jobs,” the company said through its public relations firm, Edelman.
“As a result, Central Valley Meat will provide better training for our workers, better monitoring of our facilities, and more frequent third-party audits of our operations,” the company said. “We believe these measures will establish a new industry standard for the handling of animals. For decades, Central Valley Meat has provided the country with safe, high-quality, U.S. beef. We look forward to getting back to work and continuing to help feed America.”
FSIS’ investigation into alleged food safety violations at Central Valley Meat Co. is ongoing.
USDA, McDonald's and In-N-Out Burger last week halted their purchases of meat from Central Valley Meat Co., after the group, Compassion Over Killing, released the video.
Regarding whether the company's products are allowed into the National School Lunch Program, FSIS said that because Central Valley Meats violated the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) contractual humane handling specifications, the company continues to be suspended from supplying meat to federal food programs.
“The company is also ineligible to bid on future contracts until AMS reviews and approves corrective and preventative measures that will give the department confidence that humane handling violations will not be repeated,” said FSIS.
“The company has committed to a number of corrective actions including additional humane handling training for employees and safeguards to ensure that only ambulatory animals are processed," FSIS said.
Central Valley Meat Co.’s corrective actions include:
1. Allowing only properly trained employees to help an animal that is capable of rising by providing the animal a steady hand support. Under no circumstances such support will be through attempting to pull, drag, or lift an animal.