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Slaughterhouse accused of inhumane treatment of cattle reopens

By Aaron Cooper
updated 4:51 PM EDT, Mon August 27, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The U.S. Agriculture Department said Central Valley Meat Co. in Califoirnia can resume processing
  • Animal rights video showed unacceptable treatment of cattle but no food safety violations- USDA
  • Company has agreed to corrective steps, including additional training on humane treatment of animals

Washington (CNN) -- A California slaughterhouse closed after an animal rights group released a video of workers there apparently mistreating animals has been allowed to reopen, U.S. regulators said on Monday.

The Agriculture Department said that inspections at Central Valley Meat Co of Hanford continue but the plant has made changes and can resume operations.

"As of this morning, CVM will be allowed to resume processing," Aaron Lavalle, a spokesman for the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said in a statement.

Lavalle said regulators had concluded an evaluation of an "extensive corrective action plan" formulated to address "recent humane handling violations."

Jane Velez-Mitchell: Slaughterhouse video shows USDA needs to clean up its act

The slaughterhouse was closed on August 19 after an activist working with the group Compassion Over Killing recorded a video purportedly of cattle at the company being repeatedly shot with a bolt gun. Other cattle are seen being prodded to force them to stand up and some are seen hanging from a hind leg while apparently alive.

The Agriculture Department told CNN in a statement last week that some of the footage showed "unacceptable treatment of cattle," but did not show "anything that would compromise food safety."

Lavalle said on Monday that the company has "committed to a number of corrective actions, including additional humane handling training for employees and safeguards to ensure that only ambulatory animals are processed."

Central Valley Meats has been a major supplier for Agriculture Department programs, providing 21 million pounds of beef in 2011, or nearly 16 percent of the supply. Meat purchased by the agency goes to several programs, including school lunches.

The Agriculture Department said its purchases from the company remain suspended until more reviews are completed.

Three California congressmen, Devin Nunes, Jeff Denham and Kevin McCarthy, called on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to reopen the plant. They said its closure would cause "enormous economic stress in a community with double-digit unemployment."

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