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How Was Your Veal "Prepared"? Like This Video?


How Was Your Veal "Prepared"? Like This Video?

Once again Chicago-based Mercy For Animals has shown eaters what they don't want to see. In this case the hapless calves torn from their mothers and chained by the neck known as "veal."

The group that exposed DeCoster egg farms years before the mainstream press, released undercover video last week from Buckeye Veal Farm in Apple Creek, Ohio. Narrated by Bob Barker of The Price is Right fame, it shows rows of gentle, newly born calves on spindly legs chained by the neck in 2-feet wide stalls until their date with the slaughterhouse comes. Some are covered with feces.


Buckeye Veal Farm sells its product to Atlantic Veal and Lamb of New York which is a supplier of Issaquah, WA-based Costco, the nation's third largest retailer.

Upon viewing the video, Costco officials condemned the farm conditions and said its new policy would require calves not be tethered and that their stalls be large enough to move around and lie down, reported Seattle Times. Since the video, the only three veal products offered on the Costco site are from Strauss Brands which advertises that calves are free to roam, "never tethered 
or raised in confinement" on its web site.

But Buckeye told the Associated Press that "Careful review of this video does not show any mistreatment of animals at Buckeye Veal," and that it was "in the process of being converted to group housing that does not use individual stalls."

And Atlantic Veal and Lamb said the video conditions are "acceptable practice" and on its web site, the most recent press releases discuss a new vice president of sales and marketing not animal cruelty.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle grocery chain, another Atlantic customer said Atlantic had assured it the farm's current practices were "within industry guidelines" and it had no plans of discontinuing the sale of veal says the Associated Press.

While Mercy For Animals (MFA) uncovered similar atrocities at two dairies this year, Locke, NY-based Willet Dairy (which ran on Nightline) and Plain City, OH-based Conklin Dairy Farm, results are often whitewashed as soon as they surface.

Video from Conklin shows cows stabbed with pitchforks, beaten in the face with crowbars and their tails twisted until bones break. 150 police officers had to be stationed at the dairy during the Memorial Day weekend because the public was so outraged and the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, Union County Sheriff Rocky Nelson and Dr. Temple Grandin, associate professor of livestock behavior at Colorado State University, all condemned the acts.

But in July, Union County prosecuting attorney David Phillips said no charges would be filed against Conklin owner, Gary Conklin because "in context, Mr. Conklin's actions were entirely appropriate." Worse, Phillips accuses MFA, whose undercover investigator shot the video, of allowing "the abuse to continue unreported and the animals to suffer." Not the Conklin employee, Billy Joe Gregg, who worked right alongside the owner until the Mercy For Animal investigation!

Gregg remains incarcerated and is expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty this month.

A Farm and Dairy editorial about the Conklin investigation in June also accuses MFA of allowing the abuse to continue, even suggesting that Gregg might be "paid" by MFA and "a supporter."

While Big Meat should make up its mind up whether animal advocates staged or allowed the cruelty -- you can't have both -- there is a larger question:

Why are volunteer humane workers doing the job of the government and Big Meat? And blamed, when they find infractions that both ignored, for not notifying authorities sooner? (See: downers at Hallmark Meat; school lunch program.)

Only four months before the Conklin video, an equally sadistic employee is shown abusing animals at Willet Dairy. He is believed to have worked there for 19 years and brags on camera about braining a bull with a two by four and then kicking its genitals, "stomping" an animal by jumping off of a gate and onto her head repeatedly and brutalizing a tied up calf so badly the manager asks why it's so bruised.

Denver cheese maker Leprino Foods Co., who distributes cheese to Pizza Hut, Dominos and Papa John's, announced it was dumping Willet, which had been its supplier, after the video.

In addition to enduring assaults, calves at Willet are allowed to freeze to death and kept in unheated, coffin-like tin sheds spaced every few feet, even in the snow, says the MFA investigator.

"I discovered a calf that appeared severely ill. I asked the worker responsible for newborns about her, and he told me that she was cold and would soon be dead," he writes in a diary he kept while working on the farm. Seven hours later, "the dying calf was still in the same place, her throat barely expanding and contracting in slow breaths. Her eyes were completely gray. I sat down beside her and stroked her hair. She did not respond, but when I got up to walk away, she let out a weak bleat, so I returned and continued to pet her."

The next day the calf had frozen to death and been "dragged into a corner," he writes. "Two other calves cuddled next to each other, shivering from the cold. A mother hovered over the pen, helplessly watching and moaning in distress."

While many ask why "farms" like Willet, Conklin and Buckeye are not shut down but allowed to continue operations with legal slaps on the wrist there is another unanswered question:

Why does a country that loves animals, babies and baby animals eat veal?

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist, who writes about public health

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