BUFFALO LAKE, Minn., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A southern Minnesota meatpacker has been cited for a fourth time for inhumane beef-processing practices, halting the plant's production, officials said.
Triple J Family Farms in Buffalo Lake, Minn., which opened in 2012, was cited and shut down for a day in December for breaches of humane slaughtering rules, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Thursday.
The company has not commented on the suspension, which was ordered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, records show this was the fourth time in 2013 that the plant was closed for inhumane practices.
Triple J, which is a joint venture of a Chicago meat distributor and an Iowa feed lot operator, was first cited by the USDA in April, after a cattle pileup in the plant's "knock box" -- an enclosure where cattle are stunned senseless -- led to the injury of two cows.
Then, on Oct. 10, an ineffective stun failed to knock out a cow at Triple J, leading to another suspension from the USDA. Two similar incidents happened on Oct. 11 and most recently in early December.
Farm Sanctuary, a national farm animal protection organization, says that ineffective stuns in the "knock box" can cause animals to suffer significant pain for minutes. The group has advised the USDA to shut down Triple J over the plant's multiple violations.
"They [the USDA] are not taking this egregious abuse of animals all that seriously," said Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary's senior policy director.
The USDA has not commented on the case.