COMMENTS: Sickening Slaughter

CBS' Nancy Cordes already got a jump on the meat recall story last month when she aired the Humane Society's undercover videotape of sick cows being tortured at the Hallmark Westland slaughterhouse in California. All three networks covered the story now that the animal activists' expose has led to the recall of 143m pounds of meat, much of it sent to the school lunch program. "Nobody has gotten sick," CBS' Bill Whitaker reassured us. "It is just the images that are so sickening." The torture was applied because so-called downer cows, ones that cannot walk, are not permitted to be used for meat. NBC's Pete Williams narrated the video showing "plant workers repeatedly shocking animals with prods to get them to stand or using forklifts to forcibly raise them up" so that they their carcasses could qualify as food. On ABC's A Closer Look, Lisa Stark explained that USDA inspectors did not halt the practice because their schedule was so predictable that the torture always occurred at an hour when they were sure to be elsewhere. The Humane Society told Stark that it suspects that coercing downers to walk to slaughter is routine practice since it chose Hallmark Westland for videotaping at random without prior inside knowledge of abuse.


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