The Senate, led by two Democrats from California, is demanding an investigation into how USDA inspectors failed to stop the slaughter of "downer" cattle for food.
Former industry representatives, animal rights advocates and consumer groups already have their answer: The industry is wily, and able to avoid getting caught violating the law when USDA inspectors show up.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Slaughterhouse workers watch every move of federal inspectors. They know when they take bathroom breaks. They use the radio to alert one another to the inspector's every step. They even assign the pretty talkative woman to work next to the inspector to distract him from his mission to safeguard the nation's food supply.
That cat-and-mouse game is portrayed by past and current inspectors, lawmakers and an audit report that say the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service is easy to bypass and was failing to screen potentially sick cattle long before this week's beef recall, the largest in U.S. history.
A 2006 audit reviewed 12 slaughterhouses and showed that, despite federal regulations banning all cattle that cannot walk from the human food supply, 29 so-called downer animals were slaughtered. Of those, 20 had no documented physical injury that would demonstrate that they were not diseased, according to the report by the USDA's office of inspector general.
Whether the investigation by Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein turns up the same evidence remains to be seen.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.