By John Burton
Update: On March 10 the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that Catelli Brothers Veal and Lamb requested and received last week a voluntary withdrawal of inspection at its slaughterhouse facility, 696-768 Broad St. Under USDA regulations, inspectors for the department’s Food Safety and Inspection Services are required to be onsite at the slaughterhouse during operating hours.
“The last day of slaughter and inspected operations at the facility was Feb. 12,” said John McIntire, USDA spokesman.
SHREWSBURY – Catelli Brothers, a veal and lamb supplier and slaughterhouse, will no longer use its Broad Street location as a slaughterhouse.
According to the state Department of Agriculture, Catelli Brothers plans to cease using the 696-768 Broad Street location for that use, but will continue to use the site for processing meat.
A state department official had no additional information on the company’s plan.
Repeated calls over the past week to Anthony Catelli, company president, at his Collingswood facility, and calls to the Broad Street facility, were not returned by press time.
But Mayor Donald Burden acknowledged that an area resident had recently said there continues to be activity at the Broad Street site as animals are delivered overnight.
That, Burden said, has been a long-standing complaint from residential neighbors.
The location also has long been the recipient of the wrath from animal rights groups who regularly stage demonstrations there. One group, NJ Farm Animal Save, has scheduled a demonstration/vigil at the Broad Street location from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13.
The Broad Street facility also attracted public attention and a reaction from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January 2014. At that time the Humane Society of the United States released a video secretly recorded by an employee of the slaughterhouse allegedly showing employees mistreating animals, with critics accusing the operation of violating federal law in its treatment of animals.
In response to the video, the U.S. Department of Agriculture withdrew its inspectors, who are required to be on site while the slaughterhouse is operating, and closed the location for five days.
USDA representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“This was a facility that was notorious for animal cruelty,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the humane society. “It was a horror show. Animals that were too sick to even stand or walk to their own death were being forced into the slaughter plant to be killed, sometimes in wheelbarrows or in other devises or dragged in,” he recalled of the video.
On its website, Catelli Brothers stated “At all times, our objective is to ensure the animals’ well being, from time on veal farms through transportation to harvest and processing…” and its Shrewsbury facility was designed using guidelines established by Temple Grandin, an authority on humane animal handling.
The Catelli Brothers have been in business since 1981. In 2010 the company merged with Delimax USA to form the Fontelli Food Group, one of the largest veal and lamb organizations in North America.
The Catelli Brothers have operated the Shrewsbury location for approximately 21 years. Prior to that, it had been Marx Bros., which according to some sources had been operating a slaughterhouse there since at least the 1940s.
At that time Shrewsbury was a largely rural, farming community, where such a business would have been more in keeping with the surroundings than in its current iteration as the business district of a suburban area, Burden noted.