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FSIS Issues Guidance for Systematic Approach to Animal Welfare

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

(American Meat Institute)

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) last week issued a new compliance guide for developing a systematic approach to humane animal handling of livestock. 

The agency defined a systematic approach as a comprehensive method of evaluating how livestock enter and move through an establishment to minimize excitement, discomfort, and accidental injury.  The three key features of the approach are written procedures, written records and FSIS review.  While acknowledging that the approach is not a regulatory requirement, FSIS said it is the best way to achieve compliance with federal humane handling requirements.  The guide also notes that if an establishment develops and implements a robust systematic approach to humane handling and slaughter, FSIS would consider this when determining enforcement actions following an egregious inhumane treatment event.

In releasing the guidance, the agency said it was developed to address humane handling incidents noted in a May 2013 report by the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG).

In addition to the Compliance Guidelines, the agency said it is further equipping employees to prevent and respond to inhumane handing incidents by delivering a more practical, situation-based humane handling training to inspectors and veterinarians who verify and enforce humane handling requirements at hundreds of livestock slaughter establishments across the country. FSIS began delivering this enhanced training in 2010, and the agency will continue to deliver this training to new employees. The training presents a variety of realistic animal-handling scenarios that employees may encounter, from truck unloading, to stunning, to post-stunning.

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