USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a directive with new instructions to its inspectors that will better ensure the humane treatment and slaughter of livestock presented for processing at FSIS-inspected facilities. FSIS will train its personnel to ensure they are prepared to carry out these new instructions.

"USDA is deeply committed to ensuring the humane treatment of livestock at federally-inspected establishments," says Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen. "We are honoring that commitment with clear guidance and better training for our inspection program personnel."

This directive provides new instructions for inspection program personnel to ensure that treatment of livestock during handling and slaughter minimizes the animal’s amount of excitement, pain, injury or discomfort.

During the past two years, FSIS has implemented a number of measures to strengthen humane handling enforcement. On Dec. 22, 2010, FSIS issued new instructions to its inspectors to condemn and promptly euthanize all non-ambulatory mature cattle. On March 14, 2009, the USDA issued a final rule to amend federal meat inspection regulations to require a complete ban on the slaughter of non-ambulatory cattle for use in human food. FSIS also created 24 new humane handling enforcement positions, including 23 in-plant personnel and a headquarters-based Humane Handling Enforcement Coordinator.

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