Following reports of illegal activity from an undercover agent, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched an official investigation into a farm in Edgewood, Washington, accused of running an unlicensed slaughterhouse.
According to a statement from a special agent with the USDA, undercover investigators observed the illegal butchering of meat that was then sold to restaurants in Seattle’s Central District and Columbia City neighborhood.
Because the operation was unlicensed, the meat was also sold without passing through inspection, and without being properly refrigerated.
A report from the investigation notes that animals, some pregnant, were being slaughtered with dull knives on a kill floor that was “filthy with blood, feces, and ingesta.” Inside the slaughterhouse, one undercover agent observed three holding pens on the kill floor. “The live animals … can clearly see other animals being slaughtered,” the agent said in court papers. Ducks were also observed eating scraps from the floor of the slaughterhouse.
In addition to being properly licensed, a legitimate slaughterhouse must kill its livestock quickly and with minimal pain inflicted, with a single shot to the head or by using fast-acting chemicals or electrical shocks.
The farm sold mutton and lamb, as well as pork and goat. At least two Seattle restaurants were confirmed to be conducting business with the slaughterhouse, though criminal charges have not yet been filed.