Washington, D.C. –Last week the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) began posting on the agency’s website letters sent to slaughter plants found to be in violation of federal regulations governing the humane handling and slaughter of animals.
Most of the records posted are notifications of plant suspension for egregious inhumane treatment of animals. For example, one notice of suspension involves an incident where an animal was shot 10 times before being properly stunned for slaughter. In other cases, a truck driver was seen kicking a lamb during unloading, and a plant worker was observed repeatedly using an electric prod on a downed cow who was unable to stand and walk to slaughter.
In August 2010 the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) submitted a petition to FSIS requesting that humane slaughter records be made available to the public, and in February 2011 AWI repeated the request in an appeal of the agency’s delay in providing humane slaughter enforcement records through the Freedom of Information Act.
“We commend the USDA for taking this step toward greater efficiency and transparency,” said Dena Jones, Farm Animal Program Manager for AWI. “Posting of humane slaughter records serves several purposes including educating consumers regarding how animals may be treated at slaughter so they can make informed choices and encouraging compliance by slaughter establishments with humane handling and slaughter regulations.”
The humane handling enforcement records can be accessed on the FSIS section of the USDA website. In addition to this new resource, AWI maintains an online listing of all federal slaughterhouses that have been issued a suspension, or threatened suspension, for inhumane treatment of animals since January 1, 2008.
FSIS has also responded favorably to AWI’s request to make available online its Humane Handling Quarterly Report, which reveals the number of hours inspection personnel spent performing humane handling procedures, and the number of plants suspended from production due to humane handling violations.
Dena Jones, (202) 446-2146, firstname.lastname@example.org