»Ashlie Talley – atalley2@my.apsu.edu

Last week in a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court overturned a California state law to control the amount of abuse and mistreatment of factory raised animals for slaughter.

According to a CNN article, although several judges acknowledged the benefits of the state’s actions, they disapproved of a law that would regulate the same aspects of the meat industry the Federal Meat Inspection Act already addresses.

Judge Elena Kagan wrote, “California’s [law] endeavors to regulate the same thing, at the same time, in the same place — except by imposing different requirements. The FMIA expressly preempts such a state law.”

Although this is the case, and the Supreme Court has made its decision, something needs to be done about factories and slaughterhouses that exhibit animal cruelty, because the FMIA is obviously not working.

The state law that was overturned by the Supreme Court was in response to an undercover video of a California slaughterhouse that made headline news. Employees of the company were caught illegally mishandling livestock. Downed cows were dragged on their sides and stomachs and forced to their feet to herd them with the other, healthier cows by using electric cattle prods and bulldozers.

An animal that is referred to as a “downer” is one so unhealthy it can no longer stand without help. The use of these animals for consumption is illegal because of the health risks they pose to the population. These risks include E.coli infections and mad cow outbreaks.

Basically, an unknown number of slaughterhouses who ship packaged meats to grocery stores are exposing us to high-risk diseases by using the meat of unhealthy cows when they are legally required to dispose of it.

The slaughterhouses are not the only problem. Factory farms raise unhealthy animals in such compact, poorly lit spaces they have to spend extra money on hormones and antibiotics just to keep the meat viable. Farmers use hormones to make the animals grow twice their normal size and antibiotics to keep them in conditions just barely meeting legal standards before being shipped to the slaughterhouse.

Companies are able to keep prices low by offering meat with less nutritional value and a higher risk of harm to the general public than livestock raised on an open farm.

According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the overuse of antibiotics on livestock is leading to a growing number of treatment-resistant bacteria.

The European Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating to Public Health has also expressed concern over hormone residue left over in the meat we consume, potentially causing cancer and early-onset puberty in young girls, although these concerns have not yet been proven.

Factory farms and slaughterhouses do these things for greater profit. It doesn’t bother them that their quality of food is lower than that of a healthier animal. What matters is they can offer a lower quality of food for a lower cost, but in greater quantity and therefore turn the greatest profit.

But we as the public are suffering from it. Already, strains of food poisoning bacteria are building immunity to the antibiotics fed to chickens on a daily basis. These strains have been found in the meat of raw chicken breasts. So what is being done to fix the problem?

So far, everything suggested is either not enough or it’s been overturned like the state law in California.

Factory farms need to be replaced by actual farms that have the amount of land needed to raise healthy livestock free of the mass need for antibiotics, and they need to cut down on the hormones.

Even if they aren’t posing any cancer dangers to the consumer, they are still causing the livestock to grow unnaturally big and devaluing the quality of the meat we buy.

Slaughterhouses need more frequent, mandatory inspections to ensure the humane treatment of livestock they receive, and to make sure no meat from animals that would be considered as “downers” can be introduced into our grocery stores. TAS