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Slaughterhouse Allegedly Sold Meat from Cancer-Stricken Cows

Slaughterhouse Allegedly Sold Meat from Cancer-Stricken Cows

Rancho Feeding Corp. is under criminal investigation for the sale of diseased meat

The Petaluma slaughterhouse is under criminal investigation for allegedly processing diseased meat.

Rancho Feeding Corp., the Petaluma slaughterhouse which recently recalled approximately 8.7 million pounds of beef, is now under criminal investigation for allegedly selling meat from cattle stricken with eye cancer, according to a report from The San Francisco Chronicle.

The slaughterhouse was allegedly buying cows with eye cancer and chopping off their heads in order to avoid detection from federal inspectors. In January 2014, inspectors discovered two cow heads with bovine ocular squamous cell carcinoma, also known as “cancer eye,” which often indicates cancer elsewhere in the body.

“There was no staffing shortage at Rancho Feeding; rather, it appears FSIS inspection procedures were consciously circumvented,” a source told Food Safety News.

The Petaluma slaughterhouse was also responsible for the recent recall of a few Hot Pockets flavors. So far, no related illnesses have been reported. Rancho Feeding Corp. voluntarily ceased operations earlier this year after an initial recall of more than 40 thousand pounds of meat in January.

Criminal group allegedly sold unfit horse meat

Spanish authorities have busted a suspected organized crime group selling horse meat that could have been unfit for human consumption.

The Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) was supported by Europol. The alleged criminal organization, based in the province of Barcelona, reportedly falsified equine documents and sold horse meat without the mandatory documentation to support their activities. Law enforcement officials also searched various horse stables in Catalonia.

Officers from the Spanish Environment Protection Service (SEPRONA) found the implicated horse meat on the market came from 300 horses killed in slaughterhouses. Documents of more than 10,000 horses were checked during enquiries.

Beef from cancerous cows distributed to stores, indictment claims

A federal grand jury has indicted four officials at a Northern California slaughterhouse at the center of a massive beef recall, alleging they slaughtered cows with cancer while inspectors were on their lunch breaks and distributed the diseased cattle, prosecutors announced Monday.

Petaluma-based Rancho Feeding Corp. halted operations in February after a series of recalls, including one for 8.7 million pounds of beef. The meat was sold at Walmart and other national chains and used in products, including Hot Pockets.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said Rancho processed diseased and unhealthy animals and circumvented federal inspection rules.

Slaughterhouse co-owners Jesse Amaral Jr. and Robert Singleton and employees Eugene Corda and Felix Cabrera were charged with distribution of adulterated, misbranded and uninspected meat.

Prosecutors said Cabrera and Corda were involved in the slaughter of cows with skin cancer of the eye at Amaral and Singleton's instructions. They are accused of then concealing the diseased heads by swapping them with healthy cow heads.

Cabrera, based on instructions from Amaral, also directed Rancho employees to carve stamps condemning cattle out of carcasses and to process them for transport and sale, prosecutors said. The indictment accused the company of distributing 179 diseased cattle.

It was not immediately clear whether the men had attorneys.

There have been no reports of illnesses linked to the products, which were processed from Jan. 1, 2013, through Jan. 7, 2014, and shipped to distribution centers and retail stores in California, Florida, Illinois and Texas.

More than 1,600 food distributors in the United States and Canada were alerted to the recall that asked consumers to return products, including beef jerky, taquitos, hamburger patties and Hot Pockets frozen sandwiches.

In March, the USDA allowed another Northern California company, Marin Sun Farms, to take over the shuttered Rancho slaughterhouse.

Slaughterhouse staff indicted over meat from cows with cancer

CNN: Nestlé USA issued a recall in February, 2014 of two varieties of Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets because they may contain meat that has already been recalled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The two brands are Hot Pockets brand Philly Steak and Cheese in three different pack sizes, and Hot Pockets brand Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese in the two pack box.

(CNN) — Former workers at a California slaughterhouse involved in one of the largest meat recalls in years have been charged with knowingly processing and distributing meat from cancerous cows, according to court documents released Monday.

Jesse J. Amaral Jr., also known as “Babe Amaral,” was the former President and General Manager of the Rancho Feeding Corporation in Petaluma. He and his former employees, Felix Sandoval Cabrera and Eugene Corda, have all been charged with conspiring to sell and distribute “adulterated, misbranded, and uninspected” meat.

Prosecutors allege that Amaral directed Corda and Cabrera to circumvent inspection procedures for certain cows with signs of epithelioma of the eye, also known as “cancer eye.”

This included directing employees to carve “USDA Condemned” stamps out of certain cow carcasses and to process them for sale and distribution, despite having been rejected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian.

Corda and Cabrera are also alleged to have replaced the heads of sick cows with those of healthy ones, placing the healthy heads next to the bodies of cows whose eyes had signs of cancer. The switch occurred during the inspectors’ lunch break, prosecutors said.

Massive recall

Between January 2013 and January 2014, Rancho processed and distributed meat from approximately 101 condemned cattle and approximately 79 cancer eye cows, according to court documents.

Nearly 9 million pounds of meat from the Rancho plant was recalled in February. The recalled beef may have reached 35 states and Guam, the Department of Agriculture said.

Nestle USA also issued a voluntary recall in February of some types of Hot Pockets, saying that it had determined that “a small quantity of meat from Rancho was used at Nestle’s Chatsworth, California, production operation,” which is devoted entirely to Hot Pockets sandwiches.

Maximum sentence of 20 years

Amaral is also charged with sending false invoices to farmers, telling them that their cattle had died or been condemned and charging them “handling fees” for disposal of the carcasses, instead of compensating them for the sale price, prosecutors said.

If convicted, Amaral, Cabrera, and Corda could face up to 20 years imprisonment and $250,000 in fines.

CNN’s attempts to reach the former workers and an attorney representing them were unsuccessful.

An attorney for Amaral, Jeffrey Borstein, told CNN in May that his client didn’t intend to hurt anyone.

“He takes responsibility for mistakes in judgment that were made. He made mistakes in judgment,” Bornstein said. “He regrets not being better able to recognize, respond and stop some of these alleged bad practices earlier. He’s extremely remorseful.”

USDA investigation

In June, after a CNN report exposed issues surrounding the beef recall, the U.S. House of Representatives authorized $1 million in additional funding to “provide for a swift completion” of the Department of Agriculture’s investigation into the Rancho Feeding Corporation.

Cabrera was a foreman responsible for Rancho’s “kill floor,” where cattle were slaughtered, and Corda worked to receive and transport cattle for inspection and slaughter.

Mystery Meat: Questions Still Loom on Giant Beef Recall

There are still more questions than answers about the recall of all the beef processed for a full year up through January by the Rancho Feeding Corp.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The Department of Agriculture has been almost entirely mum on the reasons for the recall, which resulted in the closure of the Rancho slaughterhouse in Petaluma, Calif. Some degree of silence is understandable, since not only are two divisions of the USDA investigating the plant (one of them the inspector general’s office, which usually means serious business) but federal prosecutors are also on the case.

So, why was all that meat swept up in the recall? We can’t know unless and until the USDA decides to tell us.

But that doesn’t mean the USDA can’t cough up more information than it so far has. When the recall was announced on last month, it came with a terse, frightening statement from the USDA that meat from Rancho was “diseased and unsound,” and that there was a “reasonable probability of serious, adverse health consequences or death.” The health risk was described as “high.” And the USDA noted that while it had “received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products,” it added that anyone “concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider.”

There is still no formal word from the USDA on what any of that might mean. What kind of illness should consumers be looking for? Who knows?

Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle, citing anonymous sources, reported that Rancho “was allegedly buying up [dairy] cows with eye cancer, chopping off their heads so inspectors couldn’t detect the disease and illegally selling the meat.” If that’s what happened, the USDA’s actions are that much more mysterious. It’s against federal law to sell meat from cancer-stricken cows, but that meat is highly unlikely to make anyone sick.

Producers of sustainable and organic meats that used the slaughterhouse, meanwhile, are mystified by the totality of the recall. Many if not most of them personally accompany their animals through the slaughterhouse, along with a federal inspector. There is, by all accounts, no possible way that their meat was tainted in any way.

In the USDA’s statements, there was “no suggestion of any plant-wide contamination,” noted Nicolette Hahn Niman in an op-ed in the New York Times on Saturday. She said complying with the recall will cost her business (BN Ranch, co-owned owned with the founder of Niman Ranch, her husband Bill Niman) hundreds of thousands of dollars. It will mean “destroying over 100,000 pounds of meat we had intentionally frozen throughout the year to extend our beef season.” BN Ranch and other producers are appealing the recall. All of that meat “received full federal inspections at the slaughterhouse, both ante- and post-mortem,” she wrote.

So, why was all that meat swept up in the recall? We can’t know unless and until the USDA decides to tell us.

More questions are raised by the San Francisco Chronicles report. From what the paper’s sources said, it seems as if someone at Rancho, which had been co-owned by Jesse “Babe” Amaral and Robert Singleton, was making a business out of buying up dairy cows with what is known in the business as “cancer eye” and selling the meat.

Is cancer eye prevalent enough to make for a lucrative, if illicit, business? Possibly. There is scant recent research on the disease, but only about 1 percent of dairy cows are afflicted with it, estimates James Cullor, director of the dairy food safety laboratory at the University of California, Davis. However, cancer eye accounts for nearly a third of cattle condemnations (that is, rejections by an inspector.) “You will get varying numbers from state to state, year to year and breed to breed,” Cullor says, but in general it’s a “fairly uncommon” affliction. “If those guys were making a business out of it, it’s probably not a huge business,” he says.

Still, since the disease is so cyclical, it’s possible that someone at Rancho was taking advantage of an uptick somewhere at some point over the year leading up to the recall, though it’s impossible to say for sure. And in the low-margin meat business, every cow sold is meaningful, and every cow rejected by inspectors represents a loss.

The incidence of cancer eye, which is especially prevalent among Hereford cattle and other cows with light pigment around the eyes, seems to increase during and after long stretches of sunny weather and droughts. That has certainly been the case in California for more than a year.

The California drought, in fact, makes the recall’s effect on local sustainable ranchers that much worse. The reason BN Ranch and other producers freeze some meat is to smooth out interruptions in the supply chain — both seasonal ones and ones due to bad weather conditions. So they were freezing far more meat this year than they usually do.

Some local politicians are demanding answers as well. Representative Jared Huffman, a Democrat whose district includes the Rancho facility, and Representative Mike Thompson, who represents a nearby district where many ranchers do business, have pressed the USDA for answers, but so far have gotten few. Huffman said last week that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack shot down reports that a lack of inspectors were to blame, and said, in Huffman’s words, that the investigation was focused on “repeated acts of deception by the owner of Rancho and not a breakdown in the inspection process.”

There is nothing to solid to indicate that any USDA employees have done anything illegal or even wrong. But in the absence of solid information, theories and half-formed allegations abound. The Petaluma Argus-Courier reported last week that, according to an official of the union representing federal inspectors, one inspector had, over a five-month period last year, “repeatedly” complained that her supervising veterinarian, who has not been identified, was approving “questionable” dairy cattle for slaughter. That union official, Paul Carney, president of the Western Council of the National Joint Council of Inspection Locals, said he had reviewed documents related to practices at Rancho.

But it’s not clear that those complaints have anything to do with the recall. Other reports, such as the San Francisco Chronicle‘s, indicate that the cattle with cancer eye might have been processed without any inspection at all, perhaps during night hours. The decapitation of cattle, if that indeed happened, would seem to indicate that someone at Rancho was trying to hide from inspectors the fact that diseased cows were being processed.

Such unconfirmed theories are likely to keep circulating unless the USDA decides to be more forthcoming. Until then, ranchers are left to stew in their losses and their anger. “There’s a criminal accusation that’s been made,” and the government “should be required to say what it is,” Tara Smith of Tara Firma Farms told the Argus-Courier. “The handling of this has been abysmal.”

Meat company sues feds over horse slaughterhouse

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.&mdashA New Mexico meat company that wants to resume domestic horse slaughter for food is suing the federal government, alleging inaction on its application was driven by emotional political debates and has cost it hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Valley Meat Co. is seeking to force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to resume inspections necessary to open what would be the nation’s first new horse slaughterhouse in more than five years.

The company and its owner, Rick de los Santos, have also sued the Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue, and Animal Protection of New Mexico, accusing the organizations of defamation during a yearlong dispute that has reignited debate over the humane treatment of horses and how best to control the nation’s exploding equine population.

Perhaps the most divisive question is whether the noble, iconic animals that played a key role in the settling of much of America are livestock or pets.

The USDA declined comment this week on the pending litigation. The agency has until January to respond to the suit filed in federal court in late October.

Animal Protection of New Mexico also declined comment. Humane Society officials did not immediately return a phone call Thursday.

Bruce Wagman, an attorney for Front Range Equine, called the lawsuit “completely false and frivolous,” and said the group did nothing wrong.

“We aren’t even sure what it says,” he added.

The dispute began a year ago, de los Santos said, after Congress removed what effectively had become a ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. His cattle slaughter business had dropped off as area ranchers sold their herds because of drought, so he talked to the USDA about converting his slaughterhouse to handle horses.

He said he was encouraged to do so but told he would have to stop slaughtering cattle to get the proper permits.

He said he shuttered his business and set about converting it but claims he was stonewalled as publicity about his plans reignited national debate about how to deal with a growing number of abused and abandoned horses.

His lawsuit claims evidence will show a “marked change in cooperation” by the USDA that the agency allegedly told him was politically motivated.

Meanwhile, the defamation suit alleges the animal protection groups actively tried to destroy his business.

Many animal humane groups and public officials were outraged at the idea of resuming domestic horse slaughter, including New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who previously vowed to fight the plan by Valley Meat Co.

“A horse’s companionship is a way of life for many people across New Mexico,” she said earlier this year. “We rely on them for work and bond with them through their loyalty.”

Some others, however, including some horse rescues, livestock associations and the American Quarter Horse Association, support a return to domestic horse slaughter. They point to a 2011 report from the federal Government Accountability Office that shows horse abuse and abandonment have been increasing since Congress effectively banned horse slaughter by cutting funding for USDA inspection programs in 2006.

A bill passed last year authorized the USDA to resume horse slaughterhouse inspections, prompting the application from de los Santos.

The number of U.S. horses sent to other countries for slaughter has nearly tripled since domestic horse slaughter ceased. Most humane groups agree that some of the worst abuse occurs in the slaughter pipeline that often takes horses to inhumane facilities in Mexico.

Last year, 68,429 horses were shipped to that country and 64,652 to Canada, according to USDA statistics compiled by the Equine Welfare Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to ending horse slaughter. That compares to total exports of 37,884 of the animals in 2006.

A Brief History Of India's War On Cow Slaughter And How People Have Reacted To It

India is reeling under debate, protests and violence over cow slaughter. While the sacred animal is revered by a section of the majority community, there are many groups in the country who have consumed cow as a cheap and easily available source of protein for many years.

Here’s a timeline of incidents of ban and subsequent violence connected to cow slaughter:

Currently, it has become a pan-India issue with some of the states clearly divided over the issue. The matter is not limited to cow now, it has been extended to all sorts of cattle, including buffalo, bull and camel. While it seems that all of the cow-slaughter-beef hoopla began with the advent of Narendra Modi-led Bhartiya Janta Party government in 2014, the truth is that it actually began way back in 1955 with the Congress party at the Centre.

Before the BJP was even formed in 1955, Congress had banned cow slaughter in 24 states across the country. Since Modi became Prime Minister, however, the focus on cow slaughter has undoubtedly increased, along with the number of lynching cases related to the ‘holy’ cow. In fact, the BJP won national elections in 2014 with a clear majority, pledging in part to ban cow slaughter. The problems, since then, has been that several groups calling themselves cow vigilantes are turning violent on the issue and have actually killed several people in the name of saving cows.

Let's have a look at what has happened so far since 2014:

March 4, 2015

Maharashtra government banned beef, with a five-year jail term and Rs. 10,000 fine for anyone found in possession of beef.

March 16, 2015

Following Maharashtra, Haryana imposed a five-year jail term and a fine of up to Rs 50,000 for selling beef.

May 30, 2015

Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi, 60, was killed in Rajasthan's Nagaur district following rumours that he killed 200 cows for a feast. Pictures of carcasses went viral on social media and thousands of young men gathered to murder him.

A few people from Chilla Village near New Delhi’s Mayur Vihar area clashed with four truck drivers who were reportedly transferring buffaloes to a slaughter house in Ghazipur.

September 28, 2015

Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri was lynched by a mob, who accused him of killing a cow and consuming its meat on Eid. An FIR was filed to investigate his murder. It was later found out that Akhlaq was not possessing cow meat.

October 1, 2015

Six students of Sree Kerala Varma College in Thrissur, Kerala, were suspended for organising a beef fest on campus as a way to protest against the abovementioned lynching.

October 16, 2015

In Himachal Pradesh’s Sirmaur district, a mob lynched a man for smuggling cattle, allegedly.

January 13, 2016

A group identifying themselves as protectors of cow attacked a couple at a railway station in Madhya Pradesh for allegedly carrying beef.

March 18, 2016

In the Latehar district of Jharkhand, two Muslim men, including a 15-year-old were first brutally assaulted and then hung from a tree for transporting cows they purchased from a cattle fair. It was reported that the criminals belonged to a local Gau Rakshak group.

Bombay High Court allowed the consumption of imported beef, but uploads the government’s ban on cow and bull slaughter.

June 2, 2016

A mob identifying themselves as cow activists beat alleged cattle smugglers in Pratapgarh, Rajasthan. Then they also took pictures of his bare, unconscious body.

June 10, 2016

The Gau Rakshak Dal in Haryana’s Gurugram, beat and force fed cow dung to two people allegedly transporting beef.

July 10, 2016

Bajrang Dal members attacked a Dalit family in Karnataka’s Koppa as they thought there was beef inside their house.

July 11, 2016

Around 35 gau rakshaks beat up seven from a Dalit family for allegedly skinning a dead cow in the Gir Somnath district of Gujarat.

July 26, 2016

Two Muslim women are beaten up at Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur railway station on the ground that they were apparently carrying beef.

January 27, 2017

The Supreme Court rejected a petition seeking a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. The apex court dismissed an activist’s proposal to prohibit the slaughter of cows across India.

On Friday, May 25, 2017, the Environment Ministry issued a notification effectively banning cow slaughter across the country, which of course led to a lot controversy.

According to the notification, only those who produce a written declaration that the cattle will not be sold for the purpose of slaughter will be allowed to sell them. Upon the sale of cattle, the animal market committee will take an “undertaking” that the animals are for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter.

States where the ban is effective include Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, Bihar, Delhi and Gujarat, among others.

On May 27, 2017, Kerala’s Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to the PM saying that the country-wide ban on cow slaughter is an intrusion of state rights and that the “new rule is against principles of secularism and federalism in our country”. He has also been reported as saying that Kerala doesn’t need a lesson on food habits from “Delhi and Nagpur”.

Other states who have expressed defiance include West Bengal, Karnataka and Puducherry. PTI quoted Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy as saying the ban as “autocratic and a clear case of infringement on the rights of people relating to food habits”. Also, Kerala High Court has sent a notice to the central government.

People in Chennai, Bengaluru and Kerala have also taken to the streets to protest against the central government’s ban on cow slaughter, and in turn beef.


The investigation will determine whether sick cows were slaughtered and whether meat products from the company should be recalled, said Justin DeJong, a spokesman for the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service.

There is no indication any of the cows slaughtered at the Central Valley Meat plant were diseased and the USDA did not order a recall of beef coming from the plant.

A spokesman for In-N-Out Burger said that CVM provided between 20 to 30 percent of the meat used by their restaurants and that it canceled its contract immediately.

The west cost burger chain has a loyal following and is regulalry patronised by Hollywood celebrities such as the soccer player David Beckham.

On the firm's website the chain claims to make its own hamburger patties 'using premium cattle selected especially for In-N-Out Burger', and says it pays 'a premium' for this.

In a statement to ABC News , the company's chief operating officer, Mark Taylor said, 'In-N-Out Burger would never condone the inhumane treatment of animals, and, in fact, all of our suppliers must agree to abide by our strict standards for the humane treatment of cattle.'

The agency suspended operations Monday at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford after receiving the video Friday from the animal welfare group Compassion Over Killing (COK).

This still image made from video provided by Compassion Over Killing, appears to show workers at a Central California slaughterhouse bungling the slaughter of cows

The footage shows animals bleeding and thrashing after being repeatedly shot in the head with a pneumatic gun in unsuccessful efforts to kill them for slaughter.

Federal regulations say that to avoid unnecessary suffering during slaughter, animals must be rendered unconscious by a single shot to the head from a pneumatic gun that fires a bolt through the skull to pierce the brain.

The USDA said investigators are trying to determine whether the cows in the video were just lame or sick, which would render them unfit for human consumption.

'That's the main issue right now,' said DeJong of the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service.

Central Valley Meat Co., owned by Brian and Lawrence Coelho, declined to comment on the video, saying company officials had not seen it.

A cow starts throwing up after a pneumatic bolt gun fails to kill it as it is transported along a conveyor belt in a slaughterhouse

Another cow bleeds profusely from its nose after a bolt gun fails to kill it at Central Valley Meat Co. in California

'We were extremely disturbed to be informed by the USDA that our plant could not operate based upon a videotape that was provided to the department by a third-party group that alleged inhumane treatment of animals on our property,' said a company statement.

Brian Coelho added, 'Our company seeks not just to meet federal humane handling regulations, but exceed them.'

The video taken by an undercover investigator for Compassion Over Killing also shows cattle lying in pens unable to move, and at least one unable to stand to leave a stock transportation trailer.

Some clips show cattle with swollen udders that are unable to keep their legs under them.

Other footage shows a downed cow trembling and unable to stand even as workers try to pull her up by the tail.

Within hours of seeing the video, the USDA's Office of Inspector General sent investigators who found evidence of 'egregious inhumane handling and treatment of livestock.'

Cows lie on the ground at Central Valley Meat Co. in California as they await slaughter

A worker stuns a cow that cannot stand at Central Valley Meat Co. in California

The possibility that animals were being inhumanely treated caused officials to shut down the plant while the investigation unfolds.

The USDA had at least two inspectors stationed at the site, and federal officials, when asked whether there was evidence the inspectors had neglected their duties, said the investigation is ongoing.

The USDA received hours of videotape from the Washington D.C.-based animal welfare group, which said its undercover investigator was employed by the slaughterhouse and made the video over a two-week period in June and early July.

In the four minute video compiled by the animal rights group various abuses towards the cows are witnessed.

Terrified cows are herded along a narrow gangway as they make their way to their slaughter at Central Valley Meat Co. in California

A worker applies a pneumatic bolt gun to the head of a cow in an attempt to kill him

One worker appears to be suffocating a cow by standing on its muzzle after a gun that injects a bolt into the animal's head had failed to kill it.

In another clip, a cow is still conscious and flailing as a conveyor lifts it by one leg for transport to an area where the animals' throats are slit for blood draining.

'The horror caught on camera is sickening,' said Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing.

'It's alarming that this is not only a USDA-inspected facility but a supplier to the USDA.'

Online USDA records show the company has contracted to sell ground beef to USDA food programs.

A security guard opens the gate at the Central Valley Meat Co., the California slaughterhouse shut down by federal regulators after they received video showing dairy cows being repeatedly shocked and shot before being slaughtered

In-N-Out Burger's have become popular across the west coast and have been served as the Vanity Fair Oscar's party

David Beckham is a fan of the chain and is pictured buying the popular burger's in January of 2012

'It's a good sign that the USDA is taking this seriously, but I want to see what comes next,' said Meier of Compassion Over Killing, adding the video will be posted on the organization's website.

After viewing the video, famed Californian fast-food firm In-N-Out Burger immediately severed their ties with CVM.

The case is reminiscent of a 2008 undercover operation by the Humane Society of the United States at the Hallmark slaughter plant in Chino that led to the largest-ever recall of beef and the conviction of two people found to have treated cows cruelly. In that case, video showed downed cows being prodded with a folk lift.

GRAPHIC CONTENT: Inhumane butchering of cattle at US slaughterhouse

Do Flatlander Cows Count as Vermont-Raised Meat?

On Saturday, LaPlatte River Angus Farm owner Jim Kleptz will travel to the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction to attend a cattle auction. For Kleptz, the semiannual event is the best place to secure the volume of steers he needs to meet the growing demand in Vermont for local beef.

Most of those cattle, which are between six months and a year and a half old, hail from Vermont farms. But others are coming from New York or New Hampshire and will be fattened up &mdash aka &ldquofinished&rdquo &mdash in Vermont before being slaughtered and sold as &ldquolocal&rdquo meat.

The practice raises a tricky question: Does a flatlander cow shipped in from out of state count as local?

Not according to some in the beef industry, who are drawing a line in the sand when it comes to defining the popular &ldquolocavore&rdquo foods market. &ldquoIf some farmer was going to New York with a tanker and bringing back maple sap, it wouldn&rsquot be Vermont maple syrup,&rdquo argues Cole Ward, a veteran Vermont butcher based in Bakersfield.

Farmer Paul List, who raises grass-fed lowline Angus cattle in Shelburne, agrees.

&ldquoThere&rsquos a lot of deception, a lot of people riding the wave of the local Vermont label,&rdquo says List. What counts as local to him? &ldquoMy standard is simple: born in Vermont. I&rsquove lived most of my life here, but I don&rsquot pretend to be a Vermonter.&rdquo And as far as List is concerned, the same standard should apply to local beef.

Purists such as List and Ward draw a firm line at the state&rsquos boundaries. Ward sets the bar even higher he believes that to count as truly local, animals should be born and raised on the same farm, from breeding stock on that farm.

Of course, not everyone favors such a strict interpretation. Are plants that are brought in from out of state, then sold at a Vermont nursery, local? What about chicks hatched in Canada, transported across the border and then raised for meat in at Misty Knoll Farms in Addison County?

For beef, which grow to approximately 1200 pounds, &ldquoI think the accepted practice is, if they&rsquore growing from 700 pounds &rsquotil you finish them, that&rsquos considered a Vermont animal,&rdquo says Kleptz.

Kleptz and his three sons run LaPlatte River Angus, a booming Shelburne-based farm that grazes several hundred cows over 600 acres of leased land in and around Chittenden County. At Saturday&rsquos auction, he&rsquoll be bidding on &ldquofeeder cattle,&rdquo the industry term for steers destined for meat production. He&rsquoll fatten up the cows &mdash first on grass, then on grain for the final weeks of their lives &mdash before dispatching them to the slaughterhouse. From there, LaPlatte meat goes to grocery stores like Healthy Living and City Market as well as to high-end restaurants such as the South Burlington Guild & Company steakhouse.

&ldquoI don&rsquot believe in knocking somebody else&rsquos product down to sell mine,&rdquo says Kleptz, who suggests that some of the nitpicking over local labels amounts to competition within the beef industry. &ldquoThey should stand on their own. Let the consumers decide.&rdquo

&ldquoIt&rsquos really up for interpretation,&rdquo agrees Mark Boyden, the owner of Boyden Farm in Cambridge. One of the largest beef operations in the state, Boyden Farm sends nearly 500 head of cattle each year to slaughter. Keeping a herd that size without buying steers from other farms would require some 500 &ldquomama cows,&rdquo Boyden says. &ldquoWhere would I put them?&rdquo

Similarly, Kleptz purchases more feeder cattle than his brood cows produce calves each year. Like Boyden, Kleptz says he&rsquos partially limited by available land. But Kleptz also points out that it takes a &ldquospecial kind of person &hellip to mess around with calving cows.&rdquo

&ldquoNot everybody wants to, or has the knack to do it,&rdquo he says. And Kleptz and Boyden say the same goes for marketing and distributing their own beef: Not every farmer in Vermont wants to do it.

Boyden says he tries to buy Vermont-born cattle &ldquowhenever humanly possible,&rdquo and prefers working with farmers he knows and trusts. But a Vermont zip code isn&rsquot a guarantee for high quality.

&ldquoSome of the Vermont cattle are really just junk,&rdquo Boyden says. He bought cows from one local farmer last year that didn&rsquot grow according to plan, and he opted not to buy from that farmer again.

So what&rsquos all the fuss about? Vermont-made sells. Chip Morgan, the president of the Vermont Beef Producers Association, calls &ldquolocal&rdquo the most popular marketing term in the state&rsquos beef industry today. That marks a shift from the conventional way of describing and marketing meat, which relies on a grading system &mdash think USDA &ldquoPrime&rdquo versus &ldquoSelect.&rdquo

Today, Morgan says, consumers are &ldquotrying to make a smart choice or a healthy choice&rdquo &mdash even if they&rsquore &ldquomaking a choice based on a qualitative analysis rather than really understanding what they&rsquore buying.&rdquo

Vermont has a statutory definition of &ldquolocal&rdquo on the books, but it&rsquos not very strict. Under state law, local applies to any goods that originated in Vermont or within 30 miles of the place they were sold. Labels can also be modified with descriptors like &ldquolocal to New England,&rdquo or &ldquolocal within 100 miles.&rdquo

More specific are the rules around use of the word &ldquoVermont&rdquo on product labels. The state attorney general&rsquos office has cracked down in certain cases, citing a consumer protection regulation that strictly governs representations of &ldquoVermont origin.&rdquo Last year, Cabot Creamery chose to strike the word &ldquoVermont&rdquo from its label because its butter is made in Springfield, Mass., from milk produced in Vermont, New York and other parts of New England.

Assistant Attorney General Elliot Burg says there are no complaints on record of farmers allegedly misrepresenting the term &ldquolocal.&rdquo

Some farmers markets have attempted to clear up the fuzzy &ldquolocal&rdquo definition themselves. Montpelier&rsquos Capital City Farmers Market, for instance, requires that vendors own, manage and feed the animal they&rsquore selling as &ldquolocal&rdquo for at least the last 75 percent of the animal&rsquos life. For poultry and laying hens, the rule is stricter the market vendor is required to raise those animals from day one.

Glover farmer and Capital City Farmers Market president Lila Bennett says the 75 percent rule was instituted a few years ago after one farmer at the market complained about another vendor&rsquos practices. Bennett says the 25 percent of wiggle room at the beginning of an animal&rsquos life was designed to allow young farmers a chance to buy livestock from elsewhere as their businesses are getting off the ground.

The Burlington Farmers Market also employs the 75 percent provision &mdash a rule intended to &ldquodiscourage brokering of meat and simply finishing meat and selling it at the market,&rdquo according to vendor guidelines on the market&rsquos website.

&ldquoIt&rsquos really up to the farmers who are working hard and producing these animals well to educate our customers and reach out to new people,&rdquo says Bennett, of Montpelier&rsquos farmer&rsquos market. &ldquoWe need to get more people to know their farmers.&rdquo

She adds that consumers also have an obligation ask questions about where and how their food is raised, without making assumptions based on labels alone.

Take Vermont Smoke and Cure, the popular line of smoked meats produced in Hinesburg. While the company does produce Vermont-grown meats under its &ldquo5 Knives&rdquo label, the flagship Vermont Smoke and Cure products are only processed in Vermont &mdash not made with locally raised meat.

&ldquoPeople buy Vermont Smoke and Cure, and there&rsquos not one pound of Vermont product in that, but nobody knows,&rdquo says Bennett. She&rsquos not pointing any fingers at the producer she just wants consumers to do their due diligence.

Sean Buchanan, the business development manager at Black River Produce in North Springfield, agrees that consumers shouldn&rsquot blindly assume that &ldquolocal&rdquo equates to whatever they most value in food production. Buchanan says they should be asking questions such as: Is an animal treated humanely? Is it fed grass or grain? How large is the farm?

&ldquoWe all go to the farmers&rsquo market, we connect with our grower, but we&rsquore not willing to go out to their farm &hellip and see how it is produced,&rdquo says Buchanan. Asking for a transparent food system &mdash and then relying on websites or Facebook for that transparency &mdash just won&rsquot work, he argues.

Along those lines, Ward worries that a farmer buying feeder cattle from elsewhere can&rsquot tell consumers much about that animal&rsquos history, treatment or health. Those producers still charge top dollar for their meat, Ward says, but the butcher believes they aren&rsquot any different from &ldquofactory farms&rdquo out west.

&ldquoDon&rsquot sell me a Chevrolet at a Cadillac price,&rdquo says Ward.

List, meanwhile, is frustrated that he&rsquos &ldquothrown in the same category&rdquo as farmers whose business model doesn&rsquot call for raising animals from birth to slaughter. It gives his competitors an unfair advantage.

&ldquoI&rsquom trying to build my brand, and keep my standards high, and I&rsquom not chasing money,&rdquo says List. Raising cattle in Vermont is inevitably more expensive than doing so out west, where cheap, abundant grasslands &mdash including grazing on government-owned parcels &mdash keep costs down. But what Vermont does have, List says, is a clean environment, plenty of water and a good reputation.

&ldquoWe better take care of that label, because as soon as we don&rsquot, we&rsquoll lose,&rdquo he says. &ldquoWhen you have people bring in animals from out of state, you&rsquove undermined it.&rdquo

Animal products

Microplastics In Seafood Raise Serious Concerns. C. difficile Superbugs in Meat. The “Clean Meat” Industry Has a Dirty Little Secret - NEO.LIFE. For nearly twenty years, the idea of growing edible meat directly from animal cells has enticed animal-welfare advocates, health-conscious foodies, and people disgusted by the way meat is produced today.

These days, that idea is attracting investors and entrepreneurs, too. This isn’t your (vegan) father’s Tofurky. More than a dozen companies worldwide are working on slaughter-free meatballs, tenders, or simple ground beef, chicken, fish, or pork made by growing muscle tissue in a cell culture. Big Ag powerhouses like Cargill and Tyson Foods have put money behind it. And at least one company, Just Foods, says it will have a product, likely bird-based, ready for market by the end of the year — although the company says whether it can sell the faux fowl will be up to regulators.

Boosters like the nonprofit Good Food Institute, a spinoff of the animal-rights group Mercy for Animals, are heralding a new era of “clean meat.” You Won't Believe What's Really In Cow Milk. We've Been Lied To□☠□ Top 10 Secrets The Food Industry Doesn't Want You To Know. New 3D Printed Burgers Made of Your Own Stem Cells. Farmed Norwegian Salmon World’s Most Toxic Food. Whats in the Meat? Samples Verify Alien DNA in 20% Tested a Mystery. The Dangers of Farmed Fish.

You may have heard that eating fish is a healthy option.

Why Farmed Salmon Is One Of The Most Toxic Things You Can Put In Your Body. We're creating viewer supported news.

Become a member! Fish has long been touted as a super food from doctors, nutritionists and specialists from around the world. Many people choose not to eat meat or other animal products, but show pride in their presumed health conscious decision to consume fish. But, as with almost everything else that is promoted heavily in the media, there’s something fishy about this… The Perils of Dairy. Pasteurized vs. Homogenized Milk: What's The Difference? You've heard the terms before, but do you really know what "pasteurized" and "homogenized" mean when it comes to milk?

The processes are critical to both your safety and your taste buds, but are dramatically different. Having just examined the pros and cons of raw milk, we think nothing could be more important than understanding our food and knowing exactly how it gets to our table. With the amount of dairy we've consumed in our lifetime, we believe it's high time we all understood what goes into our milk. Yogurt Product Buyers Guide. GMOs In Cheese? Yes - Live Toxic Free. Instead of giving you a recipe today, I want to invite you to explore making your own cheese.

I make a point to not eat GMO foods (see A Simple Guide to Eating GMO-Free), so I was surprised to learn this week that 90% of commercial cheese is made with GMO rennet. Furthermore, GMO rennet is approved by the FDA (and Generally Recognized As Safe) and not even recognized by GMO activists as something that needs to be on the label! You can read the whole story here. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Deformed Fish Being Found In Heavily Fished Area, Contaminated by Nuclear Waste. Bill Gates GMO Zombie Eggs. Chain Reaction. Report: Read the full report here.

Chain Reaction is a new report and scorecard that grades America’s top restaurant chains’ on their policies and practices regarding antibiotics use and transparency in their meat and poultry supply chains. All but five companies received a failing grade. Avoid eating these 11 types of fish to reduce your exposure to mercury. (NaturalNews) By limiting your intake of certain fish, and eating complementary foods that remove mercury from your system, you can enjoy the benefits of consuming seafood without endangering your health, as revealed in Mike Adam's new book, Food Forensics, which will hit all the major booksellers on July 26.

Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams is the founder/editor of Natural News, and his new book, Food Forensics: The Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health, contains valuable information regarding mercury levels in fish, as well as how to keep your exposure at safe levels without having to give up eating seafood altogether. Balancing the risks and benefits of eating fish The health benefits of a diet that includes fish are well-known. Nearly all fish contain mercury, however, so it's important to know which fish contain the highest levels.

From Food Forensics: And now for the good news . Why You Should Never Eat Pork. There are many religions that specifically forbid the consumption of pork.

The meat is considered “unclean” and non-kosher. Is there a reason for this? Is there more to this religious teaching that we should all be aware of? It seems as though the religions that condemn pork consumption are on to something, in fact there are many scientific claims to back this up. Pigs are scavengers by nature, which means that they will eat almost anything, including rotten food, feces, urine, carcasses and even cancerous growths.

Chemical added to hot dogs, sausage and bacon now being developed by USDA as deadly bait that poisons wild hogs to death. and you're EATING it for breakfast! (NaturalNews) A preservative chemical that's routinely added to hot dogs, beef jerky, bacon and breakfast sausage is now being deployed by government researchers as a fatal bait to poison wild hogs to death.

Development of the deadly hog poison is being pursued by none other than the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the same agency that legalizes the same toxic chemical to be used in processed meat products approved for human consumption. The chemical, known as sodium nitrite, is a cancer-causing "color fixer" and meat preservative added to processed meat products to give them a pink hue that consumers mistake for being "fresh.

" When sodium nitrite combines with the hydrochloric acid (HCl) found in stomach acid, it forms cancer-causing nitrosamines. The Long Time Cover-Up Regarding Processed Meats. Photo credit: You might not know it, but there is one chemical that is added to almost every single processed meat sold in America today – nitrites and other synthetic chemicals that are designed to cure meat are added so that they do not spoil quickly.

But did you know that the FDA has approved these chemicals, even though they have known for decades that they cause cancer? After years of denial, the University of Wisconsin has uncovered the fact that the Federal Food and Drug Administration has known, since at least the early 1970’s, that nitrites cause cancer. OMG! SOYLENT GREEN IS REAL. 15 Horrifying Facts About Processed Meat. The dairy controversy - The suppressed truth revealed. (NaturalHealth365) Let’s face it: The world is waking up to the dangers associated with pasteurized milk. But, as conventionally-produced milk demands are declining, we see a growing interest in locally-grown, farm products – including raw milk.

So, the question remains: Is milk a health problem or not? What really causes milk allergies? On the next NaturalNews Talk Hour, Jonathan Landsman and Mark McAfee, Founder of Organic Pastures dive deep into the topics of lactose intolerance, food allergies, gut health plus the suppressed truth about modern milk production. SUPERMARKET SECRETS & DECEPTIONS PART 1 (Full Video) Yogurt exposed for its highly toxic ingredients. (NaturalHealth365) A favorite snack to millions, yogurt has made several top 10 health lists – including Food Network’s 10 Snacks Under 250 Calories. You may even love it for its power-packed protein, bone-building calcium, and beneficial gut-boosting probiotics.

Opting for a healthy snack is admirable for those who are health conscious, but do you really know what’s in the yogurt you eat? Recently, the Cornucopia Institute came out with a new report criticizing the yogurt industry – especially major brands – for turning health food into junk food. Top 15 Contaminated Fish You Shouldn't be Eating. Photo credit: bigstock It used to be that eating seafood and fish regularly was a pretty safe nutritional bet. Fish was packed with protein, healthy monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, all those good things (read more about benefits of fish oil). Unfortunately, due to our continued poisoning of the environment and the Fukushima power plant meltdown, many fish are now loaded with unsafe levels of mercury and radiation.

All fish, every single fish on this planet, have some level of mercury however, some have much higher levels than others. Take a look at our list of the top 15 most contaminated fish on the market today. This means any type of meat eating shark such as Longfin Mako, Shortfin Mako, Blacktip, or common Thresher shark. It’s ironic that many people eat shark products such as soups, health drinks, pill supplements, and even shark steaks, believing that shark is a healthy meat. Toxic Megacolon Superbug. Genetically modified, glow-in-the-dark lamb 'accidentally' winds up in French food supply.

PORK!! The consequences of eating it!! Is Pork an Unhealthy "Dirty Meat" You Should Avoid? Milk The Deadly Poison WATCH THIS. » ‘Natural Flavor’ Comes From A Beaver’s Butt. By Blake Buford , HoneyColony Original Why do food companies list “Natural Flavor” as an ingredient? Probably because it sounds more appetizing than “Flavor Extracted From A Beaver’s Ass.” For some unknown reason, the largest flavoring company in the world recently revealed a number of revolting secrets to CBS News . Among other things, the story confirmed that “natural flavors come from nature, but not necessarily from what the label implies. For example, strawberry and vanilla flavor can come from the gland in a beaver’s backside.” That gland is filled with Castoreum, described on Wikipedia as the “yellowish secretion of the castor sac in combination with the beaver’s urine.”