Meat inspectors at federally regulated plants that slaughter animals got new instructions for humane treatment of animals.


Announced Monday by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the instructions come in the form of a new 40-page directive. The rules go into effect on Sept. 15. 

The directive on enforcement of humane handling codifies changes made in the last few years to ensure that animals going to slaughter are treated properly.  It replaces FSIS policies published in 1998 and 2003.

The new version, which FSIS says is going to require additional training for meat inspectors, includes a definition for “egregious inhumane handling” of animals — “any act or condition that results in severe harm to animals, which includes the excessive beating or prodding of disabled livestock, stunning animals and allowing them to regain consciousness, or any treatment causing unnecessary pain and suffering.”

The directive also provides inspectors with “verification instructions” to ensure that treatment of livestock during handling and slaughter “minimizes the animals’ amount of excitement, pain, injury or discomfort.”

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


Farm and ranch publications are depicting the new directive as “tough.”  The Humane Society of the United States had yet to comment.  HSUS has sent employees on undercover assignments to disclose inhumane treatment of animals by certain processing plants.