FSIS will require euthanasia of calves unable to walk
Posted Aug. 17, 2016
Starting in September, veal calves that are unable to walk at slaughter facilities must be euthanized.
Rules published in July by the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service align the requirements for treatment of downed calves with those for all other cattle. Agency regulations have let slaughter facilities set aside recumbent calves for warming and rest, with the calves proceeding to slaughter if they were able to rise and were found to be free from disease.
“FSIS has found that this practice may contribute to the inhumane treatment of the veal calves,” an agency announcement states. “This change would improve compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act by encouraging improved treatment of veal calves, as well as improve inspection efficiency by allowing FSIS inspection program personnel to devote more time to activities related to food safety.”
The agency published the pending rules July 18 in the Federal Register, and they take effect Sept. 16.
In 2009, the Humane Society of the United States petitioned the agency to align the requirements for calves with those of adult cattle, arguing in part that letting slaughter facilities set calves aside encouraged use of inhumane handling in fforts to force calves to rise.
FSIS officials expressed tentative agreement and sought comments in 2011, granted the petition in 2013, and published a proposed rule in 2015.
In addition to requiring euthanasia for downed calves, the pending rule removes a potential loophole that could have let companies continue setting aside nonambulatory calves for rest and recovery under the premise that the calves had not yet been “offered for slaughter,” according to the Federal Register notice. That would have been possible under a federal meat inspection regulation requiring that all inspections of live calves occur within pens.
“This final rule makes clear that FSIS inspectors have the authority to conduct ante-mortem inspection and condemn non-ambulatory disabled veal calves the moment they arrive on the premises of the establishment,” the Federal Register notice states.
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