In an interview at Food Safety News, Temple Grandin proposes putting live video from every slaughterhouse in the country on the internet:
I’m at the point where I want the industry to take all the mystery out of things. Some of the companies have video auditing and that’s good… but put a live feed out to the internet so anybody can look. What have we got to hide?
This would be a sea change for both the meat processing industry and consumers. I wonder what level of interest there is in doing this among meat processors. One might be tempted to think the large corporations would be opposed and small, local companies would be supportive since they have a better reputation with many consumers. But Dr. Grandin says neither reputation is necessarily deserved:
Ironically, most of the big plants that are audited by McDonald’s and places like that, I’m not going to say they’re perfect, but an atrocity like this last video with the pitchforks in the udder, you’re not going to see anything like that.
What I get concerned about is the little local places that are not being audited. I’ve been involved in working with and training auditors for big plants and small plants…for the big plants the audits started 10 years ago, in 1999. The little plants, there was a five year delay for them. The big plants were just horrible when we first started and then when we walked into some of these little plants they were just as horrid. The thing I have found about little plants, they’re either really good or really bad. There’s like no middle road. It’s so dependent on the attitude of the manager.
It’s the big plants that started [paying attention to humane handling], let’s give them some credit where they need some credit. The big plants started the animal welfare conference, we’ve had that welfare conference for over 10 years. They’ve become more and more conscious of this. Cargill has been a real leader, they’ve put video auditing in all their pork and beef plants. They’ve been a total leader in that. It’s audited over the internet by third party auditors.
So for Cargill at least, the leap to making that video accessible to the public wouldn’t be a huge one, technologically speaking. But in terms of changing the game and giving consumers the opportunity to make informed decisions without having to rely solely on secretly filmed video snippets posted by animal rights groups – it would be giant.
How would you feel about meat processing plants having live video feeds on the internet? Would you watch in order to decide which companies’ standards and practices are acceptable to you as a consumer?