USDA announces directive to improve humane handling enforcement measures
"USDA is deeply committed to ensuring the humane treatment of livestock at federally-inspected establishments," said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. "We are honoring that commitment with clear guidance and better training for our inspection program personnel."
This directive provides new instructions for inspection program personnel to ensure that treatment of livestock during handling and slaughter minimizes the animal’s amount of excitement, pain, injury or discomfort. Notably, this directive includes a definition for "egregious inhumane treatment". Under this definition, an egregious situation is any act or condition that results in severe harm to animals, which includes the excessive beating or prodding of disabled livestock, stunning animals and allowing them to regain consciousness, or any treatment causing unnecessary pain and suffering.
During the past two years, FSIS has implemented a number of measures to strengthen humane handling enforcement. On Dec. 22, 2010, FSIS issued new instructions to its inspectors to condemn and promptly euthanize all non-ambulatory mature cattle. On March 14, 2009, the USDA issued a final rule to amend Federal meat inspection regulations to require a complete ban on the slaughter of non-ambulatory cattle for use in human food. FSIS also created 24 new humane handling enforcement positions, including 23 in-plant personnel and a headquarters-based Humane Handling Enforcement Coordinator.
For more information on Directive 6900.2, which will better ensure the humane treatment and slaughter of livestock presented for processing at FSIS-inspected facilities, contact FSIS’ Office of Policy and Program Development at (202) 205-0495 or view it online at www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSISDirectives/6900.2.pdf.