30 runaway cows killed by UK marksmen in front of horrified kids

It was a scene straight out of Amy’s favorite movie, Napolean Dynamite, times 30.

The Daily Mirror reports a herd of runaway were massacred in a field after being put down by vets – in front of horrified children.

The 30 cattle were rounded up by police and residents after being spotted wandering in local gardens in the early hours.

After public health and animal welfare experts inspected them, council officials ordered them to be shot dead.

Police say they were killed on “welfare grounds” – but the exact reasons remained unknown last night. However, some villagers were furious they were slaughtered in broad daylight – in full view of playing kids, who fled in tears.

And staff at a hospital overlooking the field shut curtains to stop patients seeing the cull in Chirk, near Wrexham, North Wales. One resident said: “Some of my friends who live on the estate near the field where the cows were shot were quite upset afterwards. Some have young child­ren who were out playing at the time and they found it very distressing.”

A police spokesman said: “All the animals had to be humanely slaughtered that evening. There were discussions between the council, Welsh Assembly and the animal welfare agency and it was decided the animals would have to be put down on welfare grounds. .”

The animals’ carcasses were taken away in two lorries the next morning to be incinerated.

The difference between plans and actions: UK butchers says rules to keep raw and cooked food separate are ‘draconian’

The lobbyists representing U.K. butchers have called government proposals to keep raw and cooked meat products separate, “draconian.”

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued the new guidance following two serious outbreaks of E. coli in Scotland in 1996 and Wales in 2005.

Roger Kelsey, chief executive of the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders (NFMFT), labelled the new guidelines as “draconian” and said his organization had been disappointed with the consultation process ahead of their publication.

Kelsey told Meat Trades Journal: “The actual report and the implications of the recommendations are draconian. It covers areas that can be addressed by adequate HACCP procedures.”

Except the butchers involved in the outbreaks didn’t follow HACCP procedures and have to be told, in really simple language, what they are supposed to do, so they don’t kill people.

Some of the key measures highlighted in the guidance to control E. coli are:

• Identification of separate work areas, surfaces and equipment for raw and ready-to-eat food.
• Use of separate complex equipment, such as vacuum-packing machines, slicers, and mincers for raw and ready-to-eat food.
• Handwashing should be carried out using a recognized technique. Anti-bacterial gels must not be used instead of thorough handwashing.
• Disinfectants and sanitisers must meet officially recognised standards and should be used as instructed by the manufacturer.

Kudos to Cargill for showing Oprah how meat is made

The bartender was riveted. So was the waitress. My requests for a beverage
on a quiet Tuesday afternoon in Kansas City in 1998 would have to wait until
commercial. Such was the power of Oprah.

That’s Oprah Winfrey – actress cum talk show diva – who today did a segment on beef production as part of her go-vegan spiel.

The results were far more conciliatory than earlier meat outings on Oprah, and the credit goes to Cargill, who opened one of their Colorado processing plants to Oprah’s cameras and rather than resort to a corporate spokesthingy, featured a surprisingly effective Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, the plant’s general manager.

Things didn’t go so well for the meat folks in 1996.

On March 29, 1996, nine days after the U.K. officially linked bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, with a new human disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced they were expediting regulations prohibiting ruminant protein in ruminant feeds, boosting
surveillance and expanding research.

The same day, several producer groups, including the U.S. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), issued a statement supporting the moves and instituted a voluntary ban on ruminant protein in ruminant feed. Draft legislation was published in January 1997 and enacted into law later that year.

Then came Oprah. On April 16, 1996, Oprah announced during a show on food safety and mad cow disease she would stop eating hamburgers because of fears over BSE and that she was shocked after a guest said meat and bone meal made from cattle was routinely fed to other cattle to boost their meat and milk production.

The camera showed members of the studio audience gasping in surprise as vegetarian activist Howard Lyman explained how cattle parts and downer cattle (downer is the generic term used to describe cattle who can simply no longer stand) were rendered and fed to other cattle, and that BSE could make AIDS look like a common cold. The chief scientist for the U.S. National Cattleman’s Beef Association, rather than stressing the risk management actions that had been taken, was left arguing that cows were not vegetarians because they drank milk.

Today’s broadcast was different. Foodie journalist Michael Pollan wants people to know where their food comes from; Cargill obliged.

“Lisa Ling travels to Colorado, where Cargill, the biggest producer of ground beef in the world, gives her a rare inside look at how our meat is made.

“Upon arrival, the cattle are held in pens for two hours to calm them before they’re sent to be slaughtered. Each cow is then shot in the head with a bolt, which renders it insensible to pain. The cow’s artery is then cut, and about two minutes later, it dies from blood loss. After the animal’s death, the body is immediately washed, the skin is removed, and within minutes, the workers also remove the hooves, the hide and the head. The carcass is then moved to a giant cooler, where it stays for up to two days. After it’s been inspected and graded, it’s packaged, loaded on trucks and soon ends up in our local restaurants and stores.

“Nicole says she was happy to have Lisa at the plant, because she thinks people should know where their food is coming from. ‘I would not ridicule people who believe that you shouldn’t eat animals, but I would say that we are committed to doing it right. And I believe that when animals are handled with dignity and harvested carefully, that’s the natural order of things,’ says Nicole.

Whether you eat meat or not, Nicole thinks everyone who’s interested in the American food system can work together to create better results. ‘I think we’re all on the same path trying to figure out the right way to get to good health for our families and environmental sustainability and humane treatment,’ she says. ‘We’ll find a better result together, even if we have perhaps different perspectives or different beliefs.’”

The slaughterhouse portion of the video is available at:=


Farms closed, 8,000 layers slaughtered in Germany over heightened dioxin levels in eggs

The discovery of animal feed laced with dioxin has forced the closure of countless farms and the slaughter of at least 8,000 egg-laying chickens, as German officials on Monday reacted to a widening agriculture scandal.

The state of Lower Saxony said it would temporarily quarantine 1,000 farms with egg hens, pigs and turkeys until the Agricultural Ministry could ensure their products were safe for consumption.

Gert Hahne, a ministry spokesman in Hannover, said

“We’re shutting everything down first. Consumer protection takes priority.”

The toxic substance, first found last month, is thought to have made its way to Germany’s farms via feed contaminated by a fatty acids mixture from a Dutch distributor.

The animals in the county of Soest will be burned, according to local veterinarian Wilfriend Hopp. He estimated 120,000 eggs contaminated with dioxin had already been sold to the public.

“We’re getting several thousand back from retailers,” he said.

North German animal feed manufacturer Harles & Jentzsch said a Dutch supplier had delivered contaminated fat, which in turn had emanated from a bio-diesel plant run by Petrotech AG in Germany.

Petrotech AG produce the plant-based fatty acid as a by-product in the manufacture of bio-diesel from palm, soya and rapeseed oil. The corporation refused to comment.

Last year, we published case studies examining two incidents of dioxin contamination of food in Belgium and the Republic of Ireland in 1999 and 2008, respectively. In both cases, dioxins reached the food supply through the contamination of fat used for animal feed. The food and agricultural industries connected to each incident relied on crisis management activities of federal governments to limit adverse public reaction.

In 1999, the Belgian government delayed communicating with the public and other European agencies about possible risks, failed to acknowledge perceived risks with dioxin-laden feed, and ultimately suffered huge economic losses, a damaged food industry and deterioration in public confidence.

In the winter of 2008, the Republic of Ireland faced a similar dioxin-in-animal-feed crisis and, unlike the Belgian response, promptly communicated with the public, and acknowledged perceived risks by mandating that all pork products released for sale were to carry a special label to indicate they had no association with the potentially contaminated feed.

“Prompt communications with the public, acknowledgement of both real and perceived risks, and control of stigma surrounding a hazardous incident are important factors in effective crisis management,” said me. “The Irish government succeeded by not only saying the right things, but by removing potentially contaminated product from commerce in a timely manner. Actions and words must be consistent to manage any crisis and garner public support.”

Government management of two media-facilitated crises involving dioxin contamination of food

?Public Understanding of Science?

Casey J. Jacob, Corie Lok, Katija Morley, and Douglas A. Powell
Incidents become crises through a constant and intense public scrutiny facilitated by the media. Two incidents involving dioxin contamination of food led to crises in Belgium and the Republic of Ireland in 1999 and 2008, respectively. Thought to cause cancer in humans, dioxins reached the food supply in both incidents through the contamination of fat used for animal feed. The food and agricultural industries connected to each incident relied on crisis management activities of federal governments to limit adverse public reaction. Analysis of the management of the two crises by their respective federal governments, and a subsequent review of crisis management literature, led to the development of an effective crisis management model. Such a model, appropriately employed, may insulate industries associated with a crisis against damaged reputations and financial loss.?First published on February 5, 2010?Public Understanding of Science 2010

Who doesn’t slaughter their own pigs

On Dec. 6, 2010, Karen Selick wrote in Canada’s National Post about the plight of an Ottawa-area man charged with home slaughtering and distribution in a story titled, Drop The Pig And Put Your Hands In The Air.

M. Milstein, doctor of veterinary medicine, Vancouver, responds in today’s National Post in a memo to veterinary colleagues at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

You wasted your time getting a veterinary degree and spending your professional lives working towards ensuring that Canadians have a wholesome food supply. All you had to do, according to Karen Selick, was grow up on a farm, hunt, join the Armed Forces and get a degree in biomedical toxicology.

Then you "could tell a healthy animal from a sick one." Who knew?

Martha Stewart gives turkeys booze before slaughter

Cookbook author and domestic mogul Martha Stewart told Stephen Cobert (see below) she gave live turkeys miniature bottles of alcohol before killing them with her bare hands.

"I give them, you know those little cognac and bourbon bottles that you get on airplanes? Well before the bird is slaughtered you [give them] that. You just pour it down."

Stewart plans to kill six turkeys for her own Thanksgiving dinner this month.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Martha Stewart
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

‘Sedation stunning’ or ‘slow induction anesthesia’ for slaughtered chickens; why not microbiologically safer

Why are production standards marketed in grocery stores, but microbiological safety isn’t?

As reported by William Neuman of the New York Times, “shoppers in the supermarket today can buy chicken free of nearly everything but adjectives. It comes free-range, cage-free, antibiotic-free, raised on vegetarian feed, organic, even air-chilled.

“Coming soon: stress-free?

“Two premium chicken producers, Bell & Evans in Pennsylvania and Mary’s Chickens in California, are preparing to switch to a system of killing their birds that they consider more humane. The new system uses carbon dioxide gas to gently render the birds unconscious before they are hung by their feet to have their throats slit, sparing them the potential suffering associated with conventional slaughter methods.”

With so many options, why isn’t someone marketing microbiologically safer chicken – chicken with fewer of the bugs that make people barf?

With the slaughter system, David Pitman, whose family owns Mary’s Chickens, said,

“Most of the time, people don’t want to think about how the animal was killed.”

And retailers will say, you can’t market food safety because that would imply other foods are unsafe.

But as a shopper, I want to reward companies that pay attention to microbial food safety issues, and shun companies that are sloppy.

Americans are good at marketing, so why not get the Mad Men geniuses on the case and figure out how to brag about microbiologically safer food.

Anglia Autoflow, the company that is building the knock-out systems for the two processors, calls the process “controlled atmosphere stunning,” but Mr. Pitman said his company was considering the phrase “sedation stunning” for use on its packages. Also on the short-list: “humanely slaughtered,” “humanely processed” or “humanely handled.”

The trick, he said, is to communicate the goal of the new system, which is to ensure that the birds “not have any extra pain or discomfort in the last few minutes of their lives.”

Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and a prominent livestock expert, consulted with Bell & Evans as the company worked with Anglia to design its system. She said it was better because the chickens were not aware of what was happening to them. “Birds don’t like being hung upside down,” Dr. Grandin said. “They get really stressed out by that.”

Scott Sechler, the owner of Bell & Evans, said the system was designed to put birds to sleep gently, in the same way that a person undergoes anesthesia before surgery.

To evoke that image, he wants to put the words “slow induction anesthesia” on his packages and advertising, which already tell customers that the birds are raised in roomy conditions with natural light and given feed free of antibiotics or animal byproducts. Customers who want to know more will be able to go to the company’s Web site.

They shoot horses don’t they? Australia legalizes horse meat consumption

Some of the younger readers – less than 50-years-old – say they don’t get my cultural references on barfblog.com.

They Shoot Horses Don’t They? is a 1969 film based on the 1935 novel of the same name by Horace McCoy. It focuses on a disparate group of characters desperate to win a Depression-era dance marathon and the opportunistic emcee who urges them on to victory.

When Sydney Pollack signed to direct the film, he approached Jane Fonda with the role of Gloria. The actress declined because she felt the script wasn’t very good, but her then-husband Roger Vadim, who saw similarities between the book and works of the French existentialists, urged her to reconsider.

I’m lifting this all from wiki. I saw the film when I was young and the desperation conveyed by the characters was compelling.

Oh, and Western Australia has approved the human consumption of horse meat.

Food & Drink Digital reports 50,000 to 70,000 horses are slaughtered in Australia every year for human consumption in other parts of the world, but until now they were not available for consumption in Australia.

Is home butchering about economics, safety, or control? Should it be illegal to provide that meat to friends?

Mark Tijssen, a major in the Canadian Forces, belongs to a group of churchgoers who butcher their own meat to, as they say, ensure its safety.

Apparently, Tijssen’s house had been under surveillance for several days last November before officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ottawa police stopped a car leaving the property and confiscated 18 kilograms of pork. Tijssen and a friend had jointly bought a pig and slaughtered it.

Now, Tijssen will appear in court next month to face charges of running an unlicensed slaughterhouse, failing to have an animal inspected both before and after slaughter, and distributing meat. If found guilty, Tijssen could face up to $100,000 in fines.

In the Canadian province of Ontario, it is permissible to butcher an animal if the food is for the person’s own family and none of the meat leaves the property where it was butchered. This allows farmers to raise their own food. It is against the law, however, to distribute the meat to anyone else.

Ron Doering, an Ottawa lawyer and former president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, told the Ottawa Citizen Ontario’s rules on butchering and distribution of meat for personal use go far beyond those of other provinces. Saskatchewan, for example, has no provincial regulation and Newfoundland and Labrador has few regulations, while Quebec and British Columbia more closely resemble Ontario’s inspection regime.

Tijssen said he has butchered his own meat for years and cuts food costs by occasionally buying and butchering animals with a group of friends from his church. The members also have little faith in the safety of commercial meat products.

Brent Ross, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, said the ministry moderates its enforcement of meat handling rules for religious or ethnic reasons, for example, when Muslims slaughter animals for religious reasons.

Tijssen and his friends from Faith Anglican Church say religion plays no part in their butchering practices. They just want economical and safe meat.

Lowering loads: food safety starts on the farm

Every time some government type says there are more cases of E. coli O157:H7 and other dangerous bacteria in the summertime because people barbeque more, I cringe. It’s one of those blame-the-consumer comments when the reality is more complicated. 

Most food safety interventions are designed to reduce or eliminate pathogen loads – to lower the number of harmful bugs from farm-to-fork. A piece of highly-contaminated meat can wreck cross-contamination havoc in a food service or home kitchen.

Elizabeth Weise writes in USA Today today that animals carry higher levels of E. coli O157:H7 and friends during the summer months, and summarizes efforts to lower bacterial loads on animals entering slaughter plants.

Jerold Mande, USDA deputy undersecretary for food safety, said last month,

"To take the next big step forward on food safety, we need to do more to have fewer pathogens on food animals when they arrive at the slaughterhouse gate.”

Jim Marsden of Kansas State University said that microbiologically, the biggest "bang for the buck" is cleaning the bacteria off the hide or the carcass to keep it from coming into contact with the meat.

Weise writes that a number of possible interventions are in the works. Each, it is hoped, might take down the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 by a factor of 100. Below is the edited list.

Vaccines: Gut warfare

Probably the most hopeful are vaccines that lower the amount of O157:H7 in cattle’s guts. Two are furthest along, one from a Minnesota company called Epitopix and one by a Canadian company called Bioniche Life Sciences. Epitopix’s vaccine has received preliminary approval from the USDA and is being tested in the USA. Bioniche’s vaccine was approved in Canada last year and is in the approval process in the USA. In addition, scientists at the USDA’s National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, have developed two more vaccines.

Field trials of the Epitopix vaccine showed that 86% of vaccinated cattle stopped shedding O157:H7 bacteria in their feces. Of those that still were shedding bacteria, there was a 98% reduction in the amount, says Daniel Thomson (left, photo from USA Today), a veterinarian and professor of Production Medicine at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., who has studied the effectiveness of vaccine for the company.

The issue for cattlemen will be the costs of the two or three shots necessary to create immunity and the wear and tear on the cattle caused by bringing them in to be vaccinated. Going through the chute that holds them still while they’re given the shot, necessary to safeguard workers, can cause some cattle to become agitated.

Phages: A spray of bacteria fighters

Cattle walking through a car-wash-like spray of bacteria-eating viruses called phages sounds more science fiction than feedlot, but it’s actually in use across the USA. In cattle, a phage that is specific to E. coli O157:H7 is sprayed on the animals one to four hours before they’re slaughtered. "They like to have them soak," says Dan Schaefer, director of beef research and development at in Wichita. Cargill is testing the spray at one of its plants.

Probiotics: ‘Exclusion’ cultures

Basically these are bacterial cultures much like those in yogurt, given to cattle in their feed. They’re called "competitive exclusion" cultures because they out-compete the bad bacteria and exclude them in the animals’ guts. Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia in Griffin, spent years investigating them.

One for E. coli O157:H7 "worked really well for a while and then it stopped working for a while," he says. Doses required are often higher than those claimed by the companies that sell them, he says. Currently these aren’t approved by USDA or FDA as E. coli reduction methods, so the companies that market them can’t make any specific claims for them.

Sodium chlorate: A ‘suicide pill’

This chemical is used in part to do environmentally safe paper bleaching. But administered in extremely small amounts, it also plays a deadly trick on E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella.

In the oxygen-free environment of a cow’s gut, these bacteria are able to obtain energy from nitrogen. But they can’t tell the difference between nitrogen and chlorate, so if there’s chlorate present, they try to use that. This turns the chlorate into bleach, killing the bacteria from the inside without harming the animal.

Grain vs. high-quality hay

Research in Texas, Kansas and Idaho has shown that switching cattle from grain to a more expensive diet of high quality hay before slaughter may lower E. coli O157:H7 rates, though the findings have not always been consistent.

From an epidemiologic standpoint, it’s clear that these pre-slaughter interventions lower the E. coli O157:H7 burden in the cattle, says Guy Loneragan, a professor of animal science and expert in O157:H7 in cattle at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

The question is whether investing money on the ranch and feedlot will save money at the packing plant.