Records show the company was also slapped with an animal handling citation last year after US Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors found workers at the Fresno plant were using electric prods to cajole cattle through a narrow chute prior to slaughter. The visit, carried out in March 2008, followed in the wake of the biggest beef recall in US history that was linked to a separate Californian slaughter facility.
The company, a subsidiary of Cargill, was admonished after three cows were stunned when they refused to move “so that they could be pulled through the restrainer to be shackled, hung and bled," said the USDA report.
Under USDA regulations, use of a cattle prod is considered humane when used properly on walking animals. It is understood that dragging unconscious cattle could increase the risk of animals contracting salmonella and E.coli as cow hides can pick up bacteria from feces than can collect around the chute.
This shouldn’t surprise you. Food producers cut corners all the time. That peanut butter scare in January, turns out the guilty company had been scolded for mildew before the recall.