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Food inspectors failing the public--and animals

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Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) veterinarian Dean Wyatt recently blew the whistle on his agency, telling a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that FSIS managers repeatedly ignored his warnings about unsafe and inhumane practices at slaughterhouses in Oklahoma and Vermont. While working at these facilities, Wyatt witnessed calves being dragged along the ground because they were too weak to stand, cattle being left to writhe in pain after they were haphazardly shot in the head with captive-bolt guns, pigs being trampled and crushed as they were unloaded off trucks and other atrocities.

On the same day that Wyatt testified before Congress, the Government Accountability Office released a report concluding that FSIS personnel consistently fail to enforce humane slaughtering standards.

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Why should this matter to you? The same uncaring system that allows workers to beat animals without provocation and to cut pigs' throats while the animals are kicking and squealing (actions that were witnessed by Wyatt) also allows carcasses contaminated with feces and vomit, tumors and abscesses, to be sent down the line.

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If the appalling abuse of animals in the meat industry isn't enough to make you sick, the meat itself just might. In a new report, the Pew Charitable Trusts and Georgetown University estimate that foodborne illnesses cost the U.S. $152 billion in health-related expenses every year. This figure is far higher than previous estimates, which have ranged from $7 billion to $35 billion.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, 76 million people in the U.S. suffer from foodborne illnesses. Five thousand of them die.

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Animals on factory farms live mired in their own waste and breathe ammonia-laden air that burns their lungs and damages their immune systems. They are slaughtered on killing floors that are contaminated with feces, vomit and other bodily fluids--unsanitary conditions that have led to a rise in foodborne bacteria. When government food inspectors--pressured by supervisors--turn a blind eye to the filthy conditions in meat-processing plants, it's little wonder that tainted meat enters the food supply.

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with 6.5 million members and supporters, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the (more...)
 

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