Animal Writes
17 May 2000 Issue
Behind Closed Doors

by [email protected] 

Last weekend our speaker at the Vegetarian Society of El Paso dinner was Gail Eisnitz, author of the book Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry.

Gail is the main investigator for the Humane Farming Association and a former investigator for the Humane Society of the US, and an incredibly courageous woman who has given so much of herself to find and expose the truth behind the closed doors of slaughterhouses across America.

The information she has gathered is the result of almost ten years of field research, interviewing hundreds of slaughterhouse workers, USDA meat inspectors and others in the industry. And the information is horrendous to contemplate.

Attendance at our dinner was about 75, down from the usual hundred or so people who normally attend, and sales of Gail's book weren't great that evening. Even I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, but after Gail's talk I decided I needed to. The next day I read two-thirds of the book at one sitting and finished it the following day. Technically, it is well constructed, and has been compared to a detective story. To me it read like a mystery story, and the mystery remains - How could a branch of our government become as corrupt as the US Department of Agriculture and go unexposed for so long?

The USDA is the federal agency entrusted with the responsibility to inspect meat for quality and is also charged with enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act. This act, made law by Congress in 1958 and updated in the late seventies, made it mandatory for slaughterhouses to render animals unconscious before slaughtering and provided that no animals would be subjected to unnecessary pain or cruelty before slaughter.

Ever since the deregulation of the meat industry during the Reagon/Bush years, USDA meat inspectors have lost their powers to even enforce meat quality regulations. The meat industry controls the USDA through bribery and collusion and profit drives the industry above all else; animal abuse and even the health of the workers and the US consumers is of little importance.

Slaughterhouse workers and meat inspectors who complain about sanitation, animal abuse and other conditions are disciplined, punished or fired. One of my favorite quotes in the book is from a USDA inspector who says...

"We used to trim the shit off meat,

then we washed the shit off meat.

Now the consumer eats the shit off the meat."

The Humane Slaughter Act (HSA) is completely ignored by the industry and is not enforced by the federal meat inspectors, who have enough trouble inspecting for obvious fecal contamination, tumors and pus, as carcasses pass them at rates as fast as one body every three seconds.

The current "meat inspection" program in effect by the USDA is to leave the inspection in the hands of the meat industry plant managers, it is called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and leaves the inspection for points in the plant where the meat might be contaminated up to the plants to correct.

USDA meat inspectors have another name for the HACCP program - Have A Cup of Coffee and Pray. Cases of food poisoning from meat have increased by a factor of 4 in the last decade.

The shocking truth from behind slaughterhouse doors is how rampant animal cruelty is in the industry, and that between a quarter and a third of all the cows, pigs and chickens are not properly stunned and bled as required by the Humane Slaughter Act and are being skinned, dismembered, and/or boiled alive and conscious.

To learn more about this fascinating book and it's incredible revelations about the meat industry and government corruption, go to buying info: Slaughterhouse : The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat 

Go on to Don't Buy That Doggie In The Window
Return to 17 May 2000 Issue
Return to Newsletters

** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Home Page




Your comments and inquiries are welcome

This site is hosted and maintained by:
The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation
Thank you for visiting

Since date.gif (991 bytes)