Veal plant takes corrective action

Congress members ask USDA to close the loophole in federal regulations on processing of downer calves.

The Catelli Bros. Inc. Shrewsbury veal and lamb processing plant was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to reopen after the agency approved the company’s correction action, effective Feb 3.

In a Catelli Bros. statement Tony Catelli, president and ceo said, "We are pleased that USDA has approved our corrective actions, and that we are able to reopen our plant. We were very deliberate in taking the time to ensure our actions are robust and that they will continue to exceed expectations for animal care and humane food production practices.

Last month, FSIS withdrew its federal inspectors from the New Jersey facility after investigating a complaint filed alleging the company violated the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (Feedstuffs Feb. 3, 2014).

Within 24 hours for receiving the FSIS verbal notice of suspension, Catelli Bros. brought in a third-party animal handling experts including a certified trainer from the to assist the plant.

As result, Catelli Bros. responded to the suspension action with an outline of corrective actions based on the recommendation from the experts which included certified trainer Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization.

“Two nationally recognized third-party experts in humane animal handling have made specific recommendations that we have already begun to incorporate. In addition, a PACCO-certified trainer has retrained all of our employees,” stated Catelli.

The company revised animal handling policy includes installing new animal stunning equipment, increase training for employees, and eliminate the movement of non-ambulatory animals.

Catelli explained, “Additional steps we are taking include reaffirming our policy against the processing of non-ambulatory animals; increased quality assurance audits of both animal welfare practices and of the harvest process itself; retraining on humane handling practices and specific disciplinary measures for employees who violated those practices; and retraining all company transportation partners on Catelli animal handling and proper transportation procedures.”

Furthermore, among the correction action, Catelli Bros. will also install remote video surveillance equipment in the live animal handling area that will be monitored by a third party.

“Catelli Brothers will be the first veal plant in the country to install Arrowsight, a 24/7, third-party remote video surveillance and auditing of animal handling and processing procedures. Arrowsight is a program developed in cooperation with Dr. Temple Grandin, an expert in humane animal handling,” he added. 

A bipartisan group of 72 Congress members sent a letter in regards to the inhumane practice of slaughtering non-ambulatory disabled calves to the USDA secretary Tom Vilsack last week after the FSIS regulatory action at the Catelli Bros. plant.

The letter requested the FSIS to make a rule change in federal regulations to “close a loophole” that allows the processing of non-ambulatory calves.

In USDA statement, Vilsack said the agency is currently completing the necessary steps to send a proposed rule on non-ambulatory calves to the Office of Management of Budget.


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