Chains, schools ban beef from slaughterhouse after video

LOS ANGELES The Jack in the Box and In-N-Out Burger chains and school districts in 11 states reportedly have banned meat from a California processor following the Humane Society's release of a video showing plant workers kicking, shocking and dragging sick or injured cows.

The Associated Press quoted a Jack in the Box spokeswoman as saying that meat suppliers to the San Diego-based chain were ordered not to use products from Hallmark Meat Packing Co. Irvine, Calif.-based In-N-Out told the AP that it also had halted use of the beef.

Hallmark supplies Westland Meat Co., which the Humane Society said is the nation's second-largest beef supplier to the U.S. Department of Agriculture program that distributes to schools. New York City's public school system, the nation's largest, reportedly is among the 150 school districts to ban Hallmark/Westland products.

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said the USDA was investigating the Humane Society's allegations and that Westland had been "indefinitely suspended" as a supplier to federal food and nutrition programs.

"I am deeply concerned about the allegations made regarding inhumane handling of non-ambulatory disabled cattle in a federally inspected slaughter establishment," Schafer said.

The AP reported that Westland had fired two of the workers shown in the Humane Society video and suspended their supervisor.

Beef industry officials referred media to its website outlining a code of conduct emphasizing that "persons who willfully mistreat animals will not be tolerated."

The Humane Society alleged that the so-called downer cattle, which are excluded from food processing because they are more likely to transmit disease, were being prodded in efforts to make them stand so they could be processed.