The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced several measures to better enforce humane handling laws for cattle slaughtered at FSIS-inspected facilities. They appear to be in response to violations at Agriprocessors uncovered by PETA in 2004 and 2007.
FSIS unveils humane handling enforcement measures
By Lisa M. Keefe • Meatingplace.com
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced several measures to better enforce humane handling laws for cattle slaughtered at FSIS-inspected facilities.
Among the new measures the agency announced are:
• Inspection personnel are instructed to condemn and promptly euthanize all non-ambulatory mature cattle, regardless of the reason for the animal’s non-ambulatory status, to ensure they are humanely handled. The clarification is intended to ensure that the policy is consistently applied at all federally inspected establishments by resolving any uncertainty on how inspectors should interpret existing rules.
• The agency will respond to and solicit comments on petitions from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Farm Sanctuary. FSIS will soon publish a federal register notice providing the tentative conclusions FSIS has drawn regarding each petition and asking for public comment on both.
FSIS will appoint an Ombudsman in the Office of Food Safety specifically to address humane handling issues. The ombudsman will provide FSIS employees a channel of communication to voice their concerns when the standard reporting mechanisms do not adequately address outstanding issues.
• The USDA Office of Inspector General will audit industry appeals of noncompliance records and other humane handling enforcement actions by FSIS inspection program personnel to help determine whether FSIS has adequately handled humane handling violations identified by inspection personnel and challenged by an establishment. The audit will give the Agency a better picture of how well the appeals process works, and if problems are found, FSIS will take action to address them.
• FSIS will deliver enhanced humane handling training to give inspection personnel more practical, situation-based training.
“Under this Administration, we have significantly strengthened our ability to enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, but we have more work to do,” Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said in a news release. “That is why we are taking concrete steps to address outstanding humane handling issues, ranging from enhanced employee training to clearer guidance on existing rules.”
How did the uncertainty over enofrcement of humane handling and slaughter law happen?
After the rabbis (and, it seems, Nathan Lewin) got involved, FSIS inspectors were blocked from enforcing the law, as these inspectors noted in 2007.
The Bush Administration gutted humane slaughter law and its enforcement. The Obama Administration is finally taking steps to correct those wrongs.
[Hat Tip: The Other DK.]