- - Tuesday, August 21, 2012

NEW YORK — Americans plan to hit the road this Labor Day weekend despite rising gas prices.

An estimated 33 million people will travel 50 miles or more, a 2.9 percent increase from last year, according to AAA, a federation of auto clubs. That’s the highest level of travel for Labor Day weekend since the start of the recession in late 2007.

A gallon of gas now costs an average of $3.72. That’s up about 40 cents from July 1, although still down 22 cents from the peak reached in early April. Experts say gas could rise to around $3.75 per gallon by the holiday weekend.

The overwhelming majority of travelers — 85 percent — plan to drive to their destination. Once there, they will find hotel rooms costing 4 percent to 6 percent higher than last year.

Families planning to get away plan to spend $749, according to an economic model done for AAA. That’s up from $702 last year.

Of those who plan to travel, 66 percent said their current financial situation would not negatively impact their Labor Day holiday weekend travel plans; 21 percent said they will cut costs in other parts of their budget; 9 percent will shorten their trip; and 4 percent will cut transportation costs.

BEEF SUPPLY

USDA eyes whether tainted beef entered food supply

FRESNO, Calif. — Federal regulators who shut down a central California slaughterhouse after receiving an animal-welfare video were investigating Tuesday whether beef from sick cows reached the human food supply.

The video appears to show workers bungling the slaughter of cows struggling to walk and even stand. Under federal regulations, sick animals cannot be slaughtered for human consumption.

The investigation will determine whether sick cows were slaughtered and whether meat products from the company should be recalled, said Justin DeJong, a spokesman for the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service.

The agency suspended operations Monday at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford after receiving the video Friday from the animal-welfare group Compassion Over Killing. The footage shows animals bleeding and thrashing after being repeatedly shot in the head with a pneumatic gun in unsuccessful efforts to render them unconscious for slaughter.

Federal regulations say that to avoid unnecessary suffering during slaughter, animals must be rendered unconscious by a single shot to the head from a pneumatic gun that fires a bolt through the skull to pierce the brain.

BOOKS

Barnes & Noble sees’Fifty Shades’ of green

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