Beef Plant Accused Of Abusing Cows Supplied Meat For In-N-Out, U.S. School Lunch Program

A California meat plant that was temporarily shut down this week had some pretty big name clients, including In-N-Out (if you aren’t familiar, just ask any one who has ever been to California and will swear up and down that “oh, man, they have the best burgers in the whole entire universe”) and the U.S. school lunch program. From what an animal rights group is alleging, it sounds like cows were having an awful time at the plant.

The feds closed the plant this week, citing evidence of “egregious, inhumane handling and treatment of livestock.” Animal advocacy group Compassion Over Killing released an undercover video recently that showed workers using electric prods on cattle that can barely walk. The group also says the company may have used diseased “downer cows” and treated them inhumanely, reports ABC News.

It’s illegal under federal law to use “non-ambulatory disabled cattle” that aren’t eligible for slaughter for human consumption, because such downer cows could be carriers of unhealthy things like mad cow disease.

“The abuses that we uncovered should concern people for the way in which these animals were treated, but it also brings up food safety concerns and that is something that the American public wants to know about,” said Erica Meier, the executive director of Compassion Over Killing.

No need to spit out your burger just yet, as there’s no evidence that any of the cows slaughtered at the plant were diseased, and the government hasn’t recalled any beef from that location either.

The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says the closing of the plant is because the company didn’t prevent the inhumane handling of livestock that were destined to end up in food served to humans.

“Upon confirming several humane handling violations, FSIS suspended operations at the facility and is prepared to take further action as warranted by the investigation,” a spokesperson told ABC News.

In-N-Out says it got about 20-30% of its meat from the plant, and had immediately canceled its contract upon hearing about the allegations. A spokesman added that the chain had its own inspectors check out the plant, but hadn’t ever seen any inhumane treatment:

“In-N-Out Burger would never condone the inhumane treatment of animals, and, in fact, all of our suppliers must agree to abide by our strict standards for the humane treatment of cattle.”

Beyond the contract with In-N-Out, the plant has a $3.8 billion two-month contract with the U.S. government to supply beef to the USDA national school lunch program. No word yet on whether that will continue.

The plant’s president says the company is going to look into things right away, saying: “We take these allegations seriously and we are committed to correcting any problems identified on the video as quickly as we possibly can.” But he added that the allegations are coming somewhat out of the blue, as the plant is “under continuous inspection by USDA Food Safety and Inspection personnel who are empowered to take immediate action when they observe a problem.”

Plant Closed by USDA Supplied Beef for In-N-Out Burger [ABC News]



Edit Your Comment

  1. edrooney says:

    In-N-out is great and for a long time I thought they were the best. However, now that the northeast has 5 guys sprouting up everywhere, I’d say they’re equivalent. Love the animal style though.

    • perruptor says:

      In-N-Out may be fine if you like thin patties. Me, I prefer burgers with some thickness to them. Also, I think eating an I-N-O meal is what made me sick on my trip to CA 2 weeks ago. Nobody else in my family ate there or got sick. I won’t do that again.

    • nugatory says:

      I’m missing In-N-Out since I move to Houston. Luckily I’ve found a replacement: Smash Burger.

      • MutantMonkey says:

        Smash is good but man are they expensive. Love the fires and the fried pickles.

      • awesome anna says:

        Love me some smash burger!!

      • Draw2much says:

        Oh man, Smashburger is the best! We just gone one here. They’re some of the best tasting burgers I’ve ever had…. and when you get a plate of hot fresh Smashfries… yum yummmm….

    • That guy. says:

      I enjoy 5 Guys now and then (wait…what?), but I find their stuff too greasy. I like Cheeburger Cheeburger much more.

  2. Banished to the Corner says:

    What needs to happen is that the employees that did this get their faces posted for their cruel behavior and they get fired/charged with animal cruelty. If this happens enough, the people who work at abattoirs will behave in an appropriate manner.

    If this is within the abattoir’s policies, then they need to be shut down and the management charged with animal cruelty.

    • library south says:

      no. the workplace makes these people act like this. they’re not bad people to start off with.

      • Chuft-Captain says:

        Seriously? I guarantee you some of them are bad people to begin with. Maybe not all. But anyone who was not a bad person had the option to refuse to do unethical things.

      • Bob A Dobalina says:

        sure they were. anyone who can be so heartless and cruel is like that by nature

        this is why every serial killer/mass murderer started out being cruel to animals.

        decent people would refuse to do it, quit and/or report it

    • fleef says:

      I agree. Personally, I think some weirdos look for work in places like this so they have the ability to abuse animals. They are sick sadistic f%%ks.

    • Bob A Dobalina says:

      Most of the people who work in slaughterhouses are illegal immigrants. if they get fired, they will just get another crappy, low paying job.

      i agree that suppliers who practice inhumane treatment should be charged with animal cruelty and punished to the full extent of the law.

      On the plus side, many large customers of meat packers (e.g. McDonalds) respond quickly to accusations of cruelty. they have done a lot to force suppliers to eliminate such things as gestation crates and battery cages.

  3. samonela says:

  4. Coffee says:

    Now I know that the secret ingredients that make In-N-Out so delicious are fear and pain. I am disgusted. Outraged. And I know, deep in my heart of hearts, that the next time I’m in California, I will be inside of one, shoving that meat and those buns into my mouth as tears of shame stream down my cheeks.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      The suffering. The sweet, sweet suffering. Now I’m in the mood to watch a vintage Hellraiser marathon on Sci-Fi chan.

  5. polishhillbilly says:


  6. That guy. says:

    Workers, and mangers, in this kind of company only cut corners and do things inhumainly because of one of two things…

    1) They were given a “number”, be it profit or productivity, that upper management insists they meet. While not explicitly telling them to cut these corners, it is implied because these goal numbers can only be met (and are calculated) by taking these measures.

    2) They were explicitly told to take these measures.

    Either way, employees don’t just decided to do these sorts of things on their own.

    • ScottG says:

      Not sure how being given a “number” leads to abuse or how abuse helps reach that number.

      You have more faith in humanity than I do I guess… I can absolutely see employees doing this on their own.

      Joe: “Hey Bob, wanna see something funny? I’m gonna shock this dumb animal – watch it jump and scream!”
      Bob: “hahaha that’s funny let me try”.

      Besides, “I was just following orders” defense hasn’t worked real well in the past.

  7. The Beer Baron says:

    Barbarians! Do they not understand that fear adds a savor and piquance to the meat that content animals cannot hope to attain? This is one of the many reasons I prefer venison that has been run to heel by greyhounds over some plodding farm animal. Bah! What ARE they teaching in schools these days?

  8. Kusac says:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else notice the rather interesting similarities to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back? Common! Compassion Over Killing?

  9. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Interesting to see some ‘witty’ posts here on this subject despite: ‘egregious, inhumane handling and treatment of livestock’


  10. crispyduck13 says:

    “…as the plant is “under continuous inspection by USDA Food Safety and Inspection personnel who are empowered to take immediate action when they observe a problem.”

    Well isn’t that interesting. So this plant manager needs to be fired for letting the USDA personnel sleep on the job and/or bribing them to look the other way, as well as said lazy-ass/bribed USDA personnel, or maybe the assholes with the electric prod should be canned, or how about the company president who knows damn well what goes on in there and just doesn’t give 2 shits because fuck you I’m on vacation in Barbados that’s why.

  11. patrick95350 says:

    Cattle processing has come a long way towards being more humane, in no small part thanks to the work of Temple Grandin. The problem is that reworking these facilities takes time, and all the attention has been focused on the really big processors. I was listening to an interview with Grandin just last month where she said that the large cattle processors in the US have all mostly switched to the more humane methods. It was the smaller facilities that don’t have the time, money, or will to update that are the problem. Sounds like this may be an example.

    • Draw2much says:

      +1 Internet Points for you for mention Temple Grandin! :D

    • Bob A Dobalina says:

      really? is that why states like Iowa and Missouri have tried to pass laws making it a felony to secretly tape livestock operations to prevent meat packers from being exposed?

      it seems like BigAg is wasting a lot of money lobbying to hide their kind and humane practices.

      and the HSUS are the people who have taken the vanguard in eliminating animal cruelty . Temple Grandin is taking credit where it is not due

  12. awesome anna says:

    In N Out is sooooooooooooo gross!!! bleck sick yuk! That’s all I gotta say. Buns are soggy from the lettuce, burgers are always pink inside and fries are mushy and soggy.

    • dks64 says:

      The buns can’t be soggy from the lettuce, the lettuce doesn’t touch the bun if you order it as is. From the bottom up, it’s spread, then tomato, then lettuce, meat patty, cheese, onion, top bun. The burgers are cooked Medium- Medium Well, you can order them well done. And you can also order the fries well done.

      • awesome anna says:

        So I hallucinated a soggy bun? Strange. And I shouldn’t have to ask for my ground beef patty to be cooked well done. Ground beef from a fast food restraunt shouldn’t be served pink in the middle. I’ve never enjoyed a single item there, I stand by my gross comment.

        • Coffee says:

          You’re entitled to your opinion, but pretty much the entire internet disagrees with you, including Zagat. You come off as a troll or someone who happens to have very, very bad taste.

          • Cor Aquilonis says:

            “…pretty much the entire internet disagrees with you…”

            Contrarian indicator of rightness!

  13. TheBigWhiteWolf says:

    There is a beef plant? Must have seeds!!!

  14. Bob A Dobalina says:

    >No need to spit out your burger just yet

    yeah, there is. in fact, there is reason to throw up.

    go look at some of the undercover videos they took. cows that can’t walk are hit, prodded and beaten. there is even a picture of a guy standing on a cow’s throat because it did not die fast enough.

    In-N-Out didn’t see any abuse. They saw cheap beef. The should be boycotted until they can prove they are not getting meat from suppliers that abuse animals.

    I am sure the HSUS will be addressing the government’s part in this.

    • Yngwie says:

      I have typically been rather disinterested in animal cruelty topics, but I watched some of the videos last night and was disgusted by the things I saw. It was shocking enough that I won’t be eating at In-N-Out again any time soon.

  15. Azagthoth says:

    We recently had several five guys move into the area and I have to say… I’m not impressed. The burger was decent, made fresh and hot, but it’s just a slider. Fries were very hot and fresh too, but nothing incredible. I do like that they pay a good wage compared to other fast food joints. I don’t like bible quotes on my drinks and napkins though.

  16. dush says:

    We are going to devour these precious cows so treat them like children right up to point that you brutally slaughter them please.

  17. tlvx says:

    “Beef Plant Accused Of Abusing Cows Supplied Meat For In-N-Out, U.S. School Lunch Program”

    Uh, duh… Anyone ever heard of, “Food, Inc.” (2008)?

  18. Libertas1 says:

    Now I’m hungry. No In-N-Out here, so it’s off to Chick-Fil-A. Thank god it’s Saturday.