Teaching Workshop: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
Air-injection Stunning Prohibited
- January 12, 2004
- FSIS published an interim final rule with request for comments.
(69 FR 1885, January 12, 2004)
- Amends FSIS regulations to prohibit air-injection stunning
- Captive bolt stunners that deliberately inject compressed air into the cranium at the end of the penetration cycle shall not be used to stun cattle." (313.15 (b) (2) (ii))
- Harvard Center for Risk Analysis conducted a risk assessment
- FSIS commissioned the study and released the results on
November 30, 2001.
- Among other things, the risk assessment compared standard
captive bolt stunning and captive bolt stunning with air-injection.
- Found that air-injection stunners can fail on occasion
and result in an increase of CNS tissue disseminated into
the circulatory system of cattle, thereby increasing the probability
of BSE agent transfer.
Air-injection Stunning and BSE
- Other studies have shown that:
- Air-injection stunning can force visible pieces of brain
and other Central Nervous System (CNS) tissue-known as macro-emboli-into
the circulatory system and organs of stunned cattle.
- Most of the infectivity in cattle that have BSE is found
in the CNS tissue (brain and spinal cord).
European Commission Opinion
- In early 2002, the European Commission's Scientific Steering
Committee concluded that air-injection stunning was the method
which had the highest risk of disseminating CNS tissues to other
tissues and organs.
- Changes in regulations:
- Previous regulation 9 CFR 310.13 specifically listed air-injection
captive bolt stunning as an approved method.
- Amended to prohibit its use in cattle.
- Regulation 313.15 (b) (2) (ii)
- New paragraph added to prohibit air-injection stunners.
Stunning Devices Used in the U.S.
- Two types of captive bolt stunners:
- Most cattle slaughter plants in U.S. use penetrative captive
bolt stun guns (without air-injection).
- FSIS does know that very few, if any, plants in the U.S. use
- FSIS inspection personnel verify that slaughter plants are using
approved stunning devices.
- Imported products must meet all safety standards for products
produced in the U.S.
- Therefore, foreign establishments that use air-injection
stunning for cattle are prohibited from importing beef products
into the U.S.
- There are relatively few studies on stunning techniques and
- If further studies indicate that other stunning techniques
introduce CNS tissues into the circulatory system of cattle, FSIS
will consider prohibiting their use as well.