Who regulates Vermont slaughterhouses? Some require both state and federal inspectors on the premises during “processing.” So what went wrong at Bushway Packing in Grand Isle, where Humane Society workers managed to shoot a video of seemingly routine animal abuse? Seven Days readers respond to Andy Bromage’s original March 24 story about the slaughterhouse, “Emails Suggest Vermont Meat Inspector Knew About Bushway Abuse,” and also a March 31 letter from state meat inspector Randy Quenneville.
Ever since Bushway Packing’s horrific animal abuse was exposed by the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) has denied knowledge and responsibility, and blamed everyone who did take action. They continue to blame HSUS, Dr. Wyatt and now Senator Giard (D-Addison), who are the only ones who did take action. How about blaming the abusers, and taking some responsibility for this?
Of course the state knew about the inhumane handling and food-safety violations that resulted in plant shutdowns in May, June and July 2009 when they occurred, because a state inspector was assigned as the inspector in charge at Bushway during those months.
It is incomprehensible that VAAFM took no action when they knew that the plant was shut down for the same, repeat violation in three successive months. VAAFM also knew that when Dr. Wyatt was no longer at the plant, the inhumane handling violations stopped being reported. Did they think that, all of a sudden, Bushway Packing saw the light? It took an HSUS undercover investigation to force VAAFM to act.
To risk Vermont’s food safety and allow animal abuse to continue in this manner is negligent. They need to stop making excuses and blaming others, admit their culpability in this fiasco, and come up with a corrective action plan that protects Vermont farmers, businesses, animals and consumers from the lasting damage that has been done to the reputation of our state, to the Vermont brand, and to our agricultural businesses.
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