The USDA is investigating cruelty charges by the Humane Society of the United States. A video was released Wednesday of workers at a California slaughterhouse using illegal methods such as electric shock to get downer cattle on their feet to be inspected. USDA regulations ban downer cattle from entering the food supply and Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer says they are taking this issue very seriously.
"If there are violations in this facility we are going to respond properly," Schafer says. "I can't tell you what is going to be the result of the inspection, but I know the folks that are there are very intent on understanding what the Human Society's charges are."
Schafer says results of the investigation will be released as soon as possible.
"It is unfortunate that the Humane Society of the United States did not present this information to us when these alleged violations occurred in the fall of 2007," Schafer says. "Had we known at the time the alleged violations occurred, we would have initiated our investigation sooner, and taken appropriate actions at that time."
USDA has indefinitely suspended Westland Meat Company as a supplier to Federal food and nutrition programs.