FSIS Issues Notice on Humane Handling Requirements

by 5m Editor
10 September 2004, at 12:00am

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which vigorously enforces the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA), today published a notice encouraging establishments to use a systematic approach to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of the law during handling and slaughter.

FSIS recommends establishments identify where and under what circumstances livestock may experience excitement, discomfort or accidental injury while being handled in connection with the slaughter process. Also, establishments are encouraged to design facilities and implement practices that will minimize discomfort and injury in accordance with existing regulations. Plants should periodically evaluate their system for effectiveness and improve or adjust operations accordingly. FSIS believes implementing these steps will serve to improve product quality and efficiency as well as enhance worker safety.

In previous years, FSIS has taken substantial and comprehensive action to ensure the humane treatment and slaughter of animals in establishments. In 2001, FSIS was able to hire District Veterinary Medical Specialists to serve as the primary contact for humane handling and slaughter issues in each district. In 2003, FSIS issued a directive to provide FSIS inspection personnel additional information on humane handling verification procedures and to clarify enforcement actions to be taken for violations.

In February 2004, FSIS implemented the electronic Humane Activities Tracking program (HAT) to document inspection activities that ensure livestock are humanely handled in federally inspected facilities. HAT provides FSIS with more accurate and readily available information on the activities and time spent by inspection personnel to ensure humane handling and slaughter requirements are met.

The HMSA requires that humane methods for handling and slaughtering be used for all meat inspected by FSIS. This statute seeks to prevent needless suffering and results in safer and better working conditions. FSIS assigns inspectors to slaughter plants to ensure compliance with HMSA requirements for humane slaughter and handling methods.

For further information contact Lynn Dickey, Ph.D., Director, Regulations and Petitions Policy Staff, Office of Policy, Program and Employee Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Cotton Annex Building, 300 12th Street, SW, Room 112, Washington DC, 20250-3700, phone (202) 720-5627.

Source: - Food Safety and Inspection Service - 9th September 2004

5m Editor