Workers at a Polish slaughterhouse were caught on camera smuggling in sick cows and slaughtering them with little or no veterinary inspection. Now police are investigating.
Poland is one of the EU’s largest meat exporters, and the footage has sounded serious health alarms. The heartbreaking video shows cows so sick they are unable to stand being dragged by ropes or chains around their horns or legs.
The smuggling and slaughtering of these sick cows appear to take place at night when veterinary officials are not present, raising the likelihood of major health hazards. Workers appear to cut out tumors and pressure sores indicating that the cows had been sick and lying on their sides for many days.
Patryk Szczepaniak, the reporter from Superwizjer, a Polish investigative television program, went undercover for three weeks and recorded the footage. He claims that this slaughterhouse “specializes only in killing sick animals” and the “procedure is nationwide.”
Szczepaniak told The Guardian:
I was ordered by my supervisors to mark the meat as healthy, and basically to make it prettier. It was horrible, believe me. The smell of rotting meat just makes you puke. I had to make it prettier by scrubbing it with my knife.
That’s right. Instead of being inspected by qualified veterinarians per Polish law, the meat was marked safe for human consumption and the slaughterhouse’s designated veterinarians were expected to sign off on it.
In three nights, Szczepaniak counted 28 visibly sick cows who could not stand at the time they were killed. When he left his position at the slaughterhouse, he returned to film from a nearby field and found trucks bringing in sick cows for five consecutive weeknights.
Veterinarians are supposed to be there before, during, and after the slaughter, but in almost three weeks working in the slaughterhouse, I only saw the vet in the morning while he took care of the paperwork and briefly examined the cow’s heads. He wasn’t there during the slaughter of the sick cows at the night shift either. On paper everything is fine, but in reality it was a disaster.
This is not the only Polish slaughterhouse under investigation for this practice. So why are Polish slaughterhouses killing sick cows and selling their meat? It’s simple: Healthy cows sell for five to six times more than sick ones, so slaughterhouses put animal welfare and people’s health at risk for profit.
About 85 percent of Poland’s beef is exported to countries including Britain, Spain, Italy, and Germany.
But dragging sick cows with chains and ropes into slaughterhouses isn’t limited to Poland. Numerous Mercy For Animals exposés reveal this practice in U.S. and Canadian facilities.
In Canada, MFA exposed sick and injured cows suffering from open wounds, oozing infections, and painful injuries without proper veterinary care; workers using chains and tractors to lift sick and injured cows into the air by their necks while punching their faces and screaming obscenities at them; workers poking and squeezing festering wounds and viciously kicking punching, and beating cows; and workers hitting cows in the face and body with chains, metal pipes, rakes, and canes.
A 2012 MFA investigation at Bettencourt Dairies found workers and management brutally kicking, punching, and shocking cows; maliciously twisting their tails to deliberately inflict pain; leaving cows to suffer from open wounds, broken bones, and infected udders without proper veterinary care; and dragging a downed cow by her neck using a chain attached to a tractor. It also uncovered extremely unsafe and unsanitary conditions, including feces-covered floors that caused cows to slip, fall, and injure themselves.
It’s time we ended our support of industries that put profit over animal welfare and people’s health by choosing a compassionate vegan lifestyle.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to get started. Check out ChooseVeg.com for tips, tricks, vegan recipes, and more.