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AVMA Calls for Increased Veterinary Oversight in Meat Production; Cites USDA Audit Report Initiated After Hallmark/Westland Recall
Date:12/12/2008

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today cited the release of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report on pre-slaughter activities in U.S. meat plants as additional confirmation that the shortage of food animal veterinarians (http://www.avma.org/press/releases/080208_nvmsa.asp) can have dire consequences on animal welfare.

The OIG report, which was released this week, was the culmination of an investigation requested by Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer following the Hallmark/Westland recall of beef products earlier this year. The investigation examined the history of Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspections at Hallmark/Westland and at 10 other facilities which, like the now-closed Hallmark, slaughter older dairy or beef cows that are removed from the herd for various reasons, usually decreased production.

Among the findings of the report is the existence of vulnerabilities, such as the lack of an adequate number of veterinarians in inspection positions. These findings reaffirm the AVMA's stance -- formalized in a resolution the organization's governing body approved last July -- that the FSIS hire more veterinarians to fill current vacancies and create more veterinary positions to adequately enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. The Association also encourages greater use of FSIS' authority to provide student debt loan repayments.

"Americans are concerned about the welfare of farm animals. But without enough veterinarians on the farms or at the slaughterhouses to do these jobs, it becomes difficult to meet the standards that we as a society demand," said Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA Chief Executive Officer.

"The federal government must take big, bold steps to increase veterinary oversight in meat pro
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SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association
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