The USDA Wednesday issued a new guidance document for livestock processors to improve humane handling of livestock presented for slaughter.
The document, compiled to support the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, provides a set of practices that will assist establishments in limiting animal excitement, discomfort and accidental injury, according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
"We have taken significant measures over the last few years to strengthen our ability to enforce humane handling laws at livestock slaughter facilities nationwide," FSIS Administrator Al Almanza noted in an agency statement.
"The guidance is one example of our commitment to the humane treatment of animals. We continue to implement improvements so that we have the best system possible."
FSIS developed the guidance to address humane handling incidents cited in a spring 2013 Office of the Inspector General report. As of this year, half of all livestock slaughter establishments have adopted the systematic approach to humane handling, meeting the agency’s strategic objective three years early. The agency will continue to implement additional best practices to support the humane treatment of animals, an FSIS statement said.
Prevention and response
In addition to the guidance document, FSIS has also been training inspectors and veterinarians who enforce humane handling requirements since 2010. The training presents a variety of realistic animal-handling scenarios that employees may encounter, from truck unloading, to stunning, to post-stunning, FSIS said.
Additional measures include the creation of a Humane Handling Enforcement Coordinator position. The coordinator will oversee the agency’s implementation and daily enforcement of humane handling requirements.
Also, the agency created the Department-level Ombudsman position, who provides a neutral forum for the agency’s field personnel and other stakeholders to report humane handling concerns that have not been addressed by the standard agency reporting mechanisms.
To read the new compliance guide, click here.