Hundreds of people are back to work in Hanford as Central Valley Meat Co. was allowed to reopen Monday. The slaughterhouse was shutdown by the U.S.D.A. for one week after allegations of inhumane treatment of animals. Hidden camera footage, shot by an animal rights group, showed possible violations of animal abuse laws. Sunday, the U.S.D.A. accepted a corrective action plan from the plant. In a statement, the company said in part:
"Central Valley Meat will provide better training for our workers, better monitoring of our facilities, and more frequent third-party audits of our operations."
Plant employees were seen coming and going to work again on Monday. One person told CBS47 he just got a job and will report on Wednesday.
The issue of unemployment prompted valley congressmen to speak out. They urged the Secretary of Agriculture to reopen the slaughterhouse.
“The impact on the employees we know was direct. Those 400, almost 500, families felt the impact of a week without a paycheck,” said Congressman Jim Costa, a democrat representing the 20th District.
While some Hanford residents are happy jobs have been restored in an economically challenged area, others say a one-week shutdown was a slap on the wrist.
“They got caught red-handed, stepping on cows noses and knocking them down. That's very, very cruel,” said Calvin Ross, a Hanford resident.
The animal rights group that shot the footage believes a message has been sent.
"The abuses we documented are all-too-common, and the easiest way for consumers to prevent violence against animals is by simply leaving animals off our plates,” said Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing.
Central Valley Meat is still not allowed to provide beef for federal school lunch programs. It also lost accounts with In-N-Out and McDonalds.