USDA’s meat inspectors are stepping up enforcement for humane treatment of animals, especially by smaller plants. In its last quarterly enforcement report for the second quarter of the federal fiscal year, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) called out more than a half dozen small meat plants for non-compliance in inhumane treatment and/or slaughter. That’s probably a list a small meat plant does not want to be on, according the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP), which last week warned itd members attending the group’s annual meeting that FSIS wants only “robust” humane handling plans and practices by those operating small slaughtering facilities. Inhumane treatment of animal is a food safety concern because handling that results in stress or pain is a factor contributing to sickness and disease, according veterinary science. FSIS can find meat processor in non-compliance (NCs) for improper sanitation practices, inhumane treatment, and for incidents of interference with government inspectors, including assault. Plants generally handle NCs fairly quickly, but they can result in suspension. FSIS reported NCs for inhumane treatment earlier this year by Southern Pride Meat, Goldsboro, NC; Rowena Meat, Rowena, TX’ Petaluma Livestock’s Newman Plant, Newman, CA; Central Valley Meat, Hanford, CA; Mountain Meadow Corp., Denver, CO; Gold Medal Packing, Rome, NY; Creston Valley Meats, Creston, CA; and Bright Oak Meats, Springfield, OR. AAMP told its members they need to implement human handling plants that are consistent with USDA guidance. A humane handling plan needs to include internal audits and a structure for taking corrective action, companies were told. Doug Hankes with Thrushwood Farms Quality Meats, an AAMP member from Galesburg, IL, said humane handling violations are “big deals.”