U.S. department of agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service withdrew its federal inspectors from Catelli Bros., Shrewsbury, NJ, slaughter plant Jan. 24 after the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed complaint claiming “egregious inhumane handling of calves in violation of federal law.”
After reviewing the legal complaint –claiming the plant violated the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act- and video footage provided to the agency by HSUS, FSIS issued a notice of suspension of the assignment of inspectors for slaughter operations to the plant.
The Notice of Suspension stated, “On Friday, January 24, 2014, FSIS Office of Field Operations personnel, experts in humane handling and slaughter regulations, thoroughly evaluated video's Exhibit A and Exhibit C. Two specific scenes were determined to be egregious inhumane handling and slaughter of cattle at your facility.”
The operation of the plant was halted without the presence of federal inspectors.
In a company statement Tony Catelli, President, of Catelli Brothers Inc. said, “For two generations, Catelli Brothers has recognized our ethical obligation for the well-being of calves that are in our care, and we take our commitment to humane treatment of every calf seriously. We are deeply concerned about the allegations that have been made regarding the care of calves at our facility. Any mistreatment of animals at our facility is unacceptable, and our established practices strictly prohibit the processing of any downed calves.
Furthermore in response to the allegations, “Our company is cooperating fully with USDA officials as we investigate the situation, Catelli said. “In addition, the very day these concerns were brought to our attention we retained one of the nation’s leading experts on animal care and handling in meat plants and he was on site within 24 hours to help us gather facts and identify necessary changes to ensure that we are providing optimal care and humane treatment of every calf that enters our facility. We are prepared to take the necessary action as the investigation warrants.”
The video was released to the public on Jan. 27 by the HSUS.