Federal agents are investigating several Seattle restaurants after a Sumner-area slaughterhouse was found to be violating food safety guidelines. The slaughterhouse, which delivered meat to multiple local restaurants, was found to have blood and viscera caked on the floor. The business was also delivering freshly slaughtered meat wrapped in garbage bags inside in unrefrigerated passenger cars.
An informant tipped off agents, telling them in March that the unlicensed slaughterhouse was delivering to local businesses. An undercover USDA agent described the area as “filthy with blood, feces, and ingesta,” with ducks wandering through the area eating scraps off the floor. The agent’s report also describes workers butchering meat with a dirty band saw and animals being bled with a dull knife.
Investigators have seized documentation related to the operation of the slaughterhouse, but have not taken animals or meat from the site. They have also not released the names of the businesses that were purchasing the meat, although they have told reporters that they are looking into restaurants in the Central District and Columbia City neighborhoods.
This is not the first time that a local slaughterhouse has been shut down for unsanitary practices. In 2014, a slaughterhouse in Auburn had its license revoked by the Washington State Department of Agriculture after it failed repeated health inspections. Another slaughterhouse in Sumner, one of the only ones delivering freshly slaughtered halal meat to the Seattle area, was closed due to sanitation issues during a major Muslim holiday.
Vegetables, not meats, are to blame for the majority of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States. That doesn’t mean that improperly handled meat is safe to eat. Meat that is slaughtered and butchered in dirty conditions can host salmonella, e. coli, and other potentially deadly diseases. With a lack of refrigeration, warmth-loving bacteria like clostridium perfringens can grow into illness-causing colonies. According to the CDC, approximately 48 million Americans are sickened by tainted foods and drinks every year, with norovirus, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter leading the pack in total illnesses caused by ingestion of contaminated substances.
From a legal perspective, recovering damages after a foodborne illness outbreak can be difficult. Foodborne illnesses can cause major health issues; even people who were otherwise healthy may experience lengthy hospital stays, organ failures, or even death. Federal investigators are generally concerned with tracing a foodborne illness back to its source in order to stop the disease from spreading; they are not in the business of administering treatment to sickened citizens or recovering damages to cover mounting medical bills.
If you have contracted a foodborne illness that caused serious damages, it may be time to speak with a personal injury attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve after a lengthy hospitalization for a disease that could have been prevented if a restaurant or food supplier had followed proper procedures.