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FSIS Announces Humane Handling Measures

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

(American Meat Institute)

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS or the agency) announced today several new humane handling measures.

The first measure, FSIS Notice 74-10: Disposition of Non-Ambulatory Disabled Cattle, was posted on the agency website today and provides more detailed instruction to Public Health Veterinarians (PHVs) regarding condemnation of non-ambulatory disabled cattle and verification that an establishment promptly euthanizes condemned cattle.  The notice states that all ambulatory disabled cattle, even those that “are temporarily down (i.e., non-ambulatory disabled) due to a reversible condition (e.g., parturient paresis, ketosis, pneumonia, arthritis, injury and the other conditions identified in 9 CFR 309.13 (b)),” except for veal calves that are non-ambulatory because they are tired or cold, are to be promptly euthanized rather than being set aside for treatment.  To view this notice, click here: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oppde/rdad/FSISNotices/74-10.pdf.

The agency also intends to publish a Federal Register notice seeking comments on two petitions, one submitted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the other by Farm Sanctuary.  The HSUS petition seeks to prohibit the current practice of warming veal calves that cannot walk to assist them in becoming ambulatory.  (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Petition_Humane_Handling.pdf)  The Farm Sanctuary petition seeks a broad condemnation of all livestock that cannot walk, regardless of cause. (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Petition_HSUS_Humane_Handling.pdf)

In addition, FSIS officials announced that they will appoint an ombudsman in the Office of Food Safety to “provide FSIS employees a channel of communication to voice their concerns when the standard reporting mechanisms do not adequately address outstanding issues” involving humane handling.  The position description is being finalized and will be advertised in the near future.  The agency also is requesting that the USDA Office of Inspector General audit “industry appeals of noncompliance records and other humane handling enforcement actions by FSIS inspection program personnel.”  The stated purpose of the audit is to give the agency a “better picture of how well the appeals process works.” Problems identified will allow FSIS to take action to address them.   

Finally, FSIS will conduct enhanced training for in-plant personnel using situation-based training to reinforce regulatory obligations.  That training program is currently being finalized.

For more information on these proposals, contact the FSIS Office of Policy and Program Development at (202) 205-0495.

 

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