USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) permanently banned the slaughter of downer cattle (animals unable to stand or walk when presented for pre-slaughter inspection). The rule makes permanent what had been an interim rule.

The interim rule was in place since Jan. 12, 2004, and was one of three interim rules USDA put in place in response to the Dec. 23, 2003 announcement of BSE in a Washington state dairy cow. The other rules prohibit specified risk materials from entering the human food chain, ban the use of high-pressure stunning devices, and establish requirements for Advanced Meat Recovery systems.

Under the rule, cattle that are injured after they pass pre-slaughter inspection will be re-evaluated to determine their eligibility for slaughter. The final rule becomes effective Oct. 1.