Slaughterhouse curiosities October 1, 2009Posted by Angelique in Animal welfare.
Tags: animal ag, animal rights, Animal welfare, cows, Food ethics, slaughterhouses
Visiting two slaughterhouses in southern Minnesota over the past couple of weeks has left me with a number of weighty issues to address. However, I thought I’d start off with just a few curiosities.
- Body parts continue to move for a very long time after they’ve been separated from their host. At the facilities I visited, what’s called the kill floor was separated into four stations – one where the animal is stunned, bled out, and trimmed of the head and feet; one where it is skinned, eviscerated, and quartered; one where the small organs are dealt with; and one where the quartered carcass is hosed off. It took about a half hour for an animal to move through all those stages. At one point the person cleaning and separating the small organs that could be sold, like the liver, left her station for a moment. I went over to take a closer look at her handiwork and saw a loosely triangular whitish-pink blob on the stainless steel worktable. This was a cow’s tongue. And it was quivering, probably twenty minutes or so after its previous owner had been killed.
- The outsides smell a lot worse than the insides. The room attained its olfactory nadir when a particularly dirty cow – one whose coat was covered with mud and dung – entered the stunning chamber. It was a relief to finally get the skin off and thrown into a rubber trash can for disposal. Otherwise, there wasn’t much to smell.
- No one wore gloves. Perhaps I expected them to because I’m used to seeing food handlers at various fast food establishments don gloves (and then use them to touch not only my food, but my money, the cash register, and whatever other disease-carriers are within arms’ reach) but these folks dug bare-fisted and elbow-deep into carcasses to drag out the organs.