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.
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
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
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 Amazon.com: 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
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