FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- The federal government and McDonald's Corp. suspended purchases of meat Wednesday from a California slaughterhouse under investigation for animal cruelty and possible health issues.
The fast-food chain joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture in severing ties with Central Valley Meat Co.
The suspensions occurred after an animal welfare group's covert video showed cows that appeared to be sick or lame being beaten, kicked, shot and shocked in an attempt to get them to walk to slaughter in the slaughterhouse.
"There are behaviors in the video which appear to be unacceptable and would not adhere to the standards we demand of our suppliers," McDonald's said in release.
Federal officials say nothing they have seen so far in the video shows meat from cows that may have been sick made it into the food supply, but interviews with employees were ongoing.
The video was shot in June and July by an undercover operative for the group Compassion Over Killing who worked at the plant and also gave a written statement to the USDA about events not on tape.
It's against the law to slaughter a non-ambulatory animal for food out of concern that it could be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease.
The Hanford slaughterhouse is in the same city where a dairy cow at a rendering plant was discovered in April to have mad cow disease.
The USDA bought 21 million pounds of beef from Central Valley Meat Company in 2011 for the national school lunch and other federal food programs.
Records show the government made five large-scale purchases of ground and chunk beef, spending more than $50 million of the total $135 allocated by the government for such acquisitions that year.
USDA spokesman Justin DeJong said he did not know to which government food programs the beef was allocated. The meat generally goes to the national school lunch program and food distribution on Indian reservations, and is available for discount purchases by community food banks.
McDonald's also said it had suspended purchases of meat from the slaughterhouse. The company did not immediately say how much meat it had been buying. But a spokesman for McDonald's said the percentage of meat purchased from the slaughterhouse is in the single digits.
Fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger previously suspended purchases after learning of the allegations of inhumane treatment.