As the meat industry scrambles to recover from a public-relations
disaster over an undercover video of abused cattle, the secretary of
agriculture and at least one congressman have picked an unlikely
target to share in the blame: the Humane Society of the United States.
The Humane Society shot the video of what appear to be sick or lame
cattle being forced to their feet with forklifts, hoses and electric
prods at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company in Chino, Calif., in
October and November.
Released publicly in late January, the video touched off criticism of
the Department of Agriculture's inspection of the meat supply and led
to the biggest beef recall in history, 143 million pounds.
At a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Representative Michael C.
Burgess, Republican of Texas, assailed the Humane Society for waiting
to inform the federal government.
"Why wait until February to release the video?" Mr. Burgess demanded
of a Humane Society representative. "Why wait until now to bring this
to our attention?"(c) The New York Times