Cow Abuse Meatpacking Boss Reluctantly Admits To Tainting The Food Supply

The president of a slaughterhouse at the heart of the largest meat recall denied under oath on Wednesday, but then changed his mind, that his company introduced sick cows into the food supply, says the NYT.

Apparently, Steve “The Cows Needed A Pick-Me-Up” Mendell was shocked, horrified and sickened by the undercover video that showed cows that were too sick to walk being lifted and prodded with forklifts.

“I was shocked. I was horrified. I was sickened,” Steve said.

Testifying before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Mendell, who appeared only after being subpoenaed, assured lawmakers that despite his lack of knowledge about conditions at the plant, sick animals were not slaughtered for food, so no safety issue existed.

But Mr. Mendell retracted the statement when shown a second video in which a “downer” cow was shocked and abused by workers trying to move it to the “kill box,” then finally shot with a bolt gun and dragged by a chain to the processing area.

When Mr. Mendell told the committee he was unaware of the abuses, Mr. Stupak asked him, “What’s your curiosity, as president and C.E.O. of the company you’re responsible for?”

Mr. Mendell replied that after he had seen the first video, he concluded that “it was a regulatory violation, for sure, it was inhumane treatment, for sure,” but that he did not believe it was a food safety issue until he saw the second video on Wednesday.

Mr. Stupak asked if one could conclude from the video that the cow dragged into the killing area had gone into the food supply.

“That would be logical, sir,” Mr. Mendell replied.

Meat Packer Admits Slaughter of Sick Cows [NYT]


Edit Your Comment

  1. lore says:

    Thank goodness for cell phone video technology.

  2. savvy9999 says:

    Perhaps Mr. Mendell should be “shot with a bolt gun and dragged by a chain to the processing area.”

    CAFOs suck.

  3. chemmy says:

    I second that motion.

  4. stageright says:

    Isn’t it amazing that when you ask a company president or CEO why they get paid so much, they say “It’s a big responsibility, I’m responsible for everything that happens in the company!” yet when the company gets slammed for this kind of thing, they say “Well, there’s no way I could be responsible for everything that happens in this company…”

    I’m all for passing a law that states that company officers and management, just like military officers, *are* to be held responsible for the people that report to them. I bet if we start sending more of the white collar sleezebags to jail, we’ll see far less incidents like this…

  5. jk09 says:

    This guy should be sent to prison.

  6. Islandkiwi says:

    you know, I was feeling bad for this guy yesterday when he was insisting the meat never entered the market. The employees were dicks, sure…but there was no outbreak, so why such a kneejerk recall?

    Enter this new admission/vid, and I wouldn’t object to this guy losing everything he had. Americans, we’re fickle like that.

  7. Wimpkins says:

    LOL Evidence ??

    I’m not sure there is anything funny about this…poor taste Consumerist.

  8. Japheaux says:

    The same people who lie and recent the initial stories are the same schmucks who say the animals didn’t have BSE. All we get is spoon-feedings about how safe everything is and blah, blah, blah, no one ate mad cow, blah, blah, blah, never entered food chain, blah, blah, blah.

    Obviously, trusting the USDA is a problem. My kids ate school lunches at a school that received the beef from hell. We read stories evey week about food tampering and how it’s a felony (insert more blah, blah, blah here), but these guys circumvent the rules for 2 years. Why are they not in prison married to the man with the most cigartettes?

  9. Antediluvian says:

    Not having seen the testimony piece, can we verify that he was sickened by the actions of his employees on the video, or the fact that there was a video showing those actions?

    Because I’m seriously thinking it’s the latter.

  10. SkyeBlue says:

    I guess what bothers me most about this whole story is of course the sick animal being introduced into our food supply, but also that this man and the people in our government who are supposed to be overseeing our food supply simply do not care. It is like, oh well, business must go on and we can’t let a few deaths ruin their bottom line nor hinder their profits. If we do that then the companies might not be able to afford to pay us even bigger bribes next year.

    I mean really, how much would it have cost them to have just not sent this cow in for processing? Compared to what it must be costing them for bad publicity, recalls, lawyers, lost profits and losing the trust of the consumers of their products? Don’t they realize their families eat these products also? Or are they all vegetarians since obviously they know what goes on at these meat processing plants?

  11. bigtimestuff says:

    @Antediluvian: Exactly. There should be a term for this. The “Sickened by Evidence” reaction. Assholes.

  12. FunPaul says:

    Sadly, it’s pretty common for meat processors to ignore food safety.
    I had the opportunity to speak with a former USDA inspector. She’s a veterinarian who worked in an IBP plant in Iowa.
    She said that she saw violations that should shut down production every day. When she did shut down the line for violations, her manager was on the phone ordering her to start it back up.
    Sometimes I wonder if we’re in better shape than Upton Sinclair’s time.

  13. bohemian says:

    Just remember that much of this downer cow meat was going to the school lunch program to be fed to kids. With a taxpayer subsidy.

    The people involved in this all need to go to prison. Personally I’m leaning more toward the Chinese solution to people who taint the food supply for a quick buck.

  14. Christovir says:

    @Islandkiwi: but there was no outbreak, so why such a kneejerk recall?

    How do we know there wasn’t an outbreak? When humans eat mad cows, there are no symptoms for years or decades, then they get vCJD, go crazy, and die. For all we know, thousands of us could be incubating vCJD right now; there is no way to know. There are no early tests, no cure, only prevention.

  15. Trai_Dep says:

    Keeping in mind that it takes DECADES for Mad Cow to start eating children’s brains up, the assurances that nothing bad came out of this ring hollow.

    Yup – businesses can self-regulate and we’ll all be safe and happy as puppies!

    Err, not.

  16. BalknChain says:

    @FunPaul: Having worked QA in a meat plant before as well, this is unfortunately all too often an occurrence. IBP is another indutrial behemoth with far too much power. After watching an inspector walk out, their way to shut the plant down, another was just sent in his place. Not all inspectors/QA are too afraid, or worse, to do the right thing. I’ve nearly lost my position before for standing my ground. It’s mindblowing what some will do for a buck.

  17. YouCanEatMe says:

    And how do we know it’s not happening everywhere?
    Laws and punishment dealing with the food supply need REAL teeth. Make an example of assholes like this. Fuck with the food supply in a manner such as this, CAPITOL OFFENSE, you are facing the death penalty, end of discussion. You can be sure that things that shouldn’t, don’t make it into the food supply then. John Q Sluaghterhouse worker ain’t goin’ to the chair for the sake of his 10/hr job.

  18. weirdalfan27 says:

    See, this is why I’m a vegetarian.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Liar. What a bunch of horse shit. This guy knows exactly what’s going on; all the slaughterhouse heads do. The moment the laws were passed (Pure Food and Drug Act, etc.) around the time of Upton Sinclair, the slaughterhouses cleaned up their acts. They then proceeded to show off their cleanliness, so that all they had to do was play “good boy” for a while. Then, when the public’s attention shifted elsewhere, the greedy son-of-a-bitches went right back to their old, money-whoring habits, not caring who or what gets hurt so long as they make their money so they can buy big fucking yachts and hold fancy parties. Their kind makes me sick; those that grow fat and rich off the agony of innocent creatures are no men; they are monsters.

    Rise up, America! See the deception and lies these men continue to spew at you. Infiltrate the slaughterhouses yourself, if necessary; tape the abuse in as many slaughterhouses as possible, using any non-violent means possible. Then, spread the word; use the power of this excellent tool known as the Internet to spread the truth to as many as will see it. In an economy like this one, those of you who have lost your jobs should try to dedicate your time to pursuits that will be of benefit to the America which we so love and adore. Fight cruelty! Fight dishonesty! Fight against the actions of these men, who so blatantly disregard everything that America stands for! It is up to us, the people; only we can bring justice to where there is none!