You are the IIC of a federal beef slaughter and processing establishment. While performing humane handling verification procedure 04C02, you decide to verify that the establishment is:
- maintaining facilities to prevent injuries and slips and falls.
- handling animals with a minimum of excitement and discomfort.
- not excessively using driving implements, especially electric prods, in order to minimize excitement and injury.
|The Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act of 1978 [7 USC 1901 1906] states that the handling and slaughtering of livestock are to be carried out only by humane methods. The Federal Meat Inspection Act [21 USC 601 et seq.] authorizes Federal Meat Inspectors to inspect, verify compliance, and enforce humane methods of handling and slaughtering of livestock so as to prevent needless suffering of animals. FSIS personnel verify that an establishment is meeting these requirements by performing procedure 04C02 daily and recording the results on the procedure schedule for each inspection shift. They also should record the time spent verifying human handling and slaughter activities in the Humane-handling Activities Tracking System (HATS).
The following references should be used when studying this HIKE:
Based on historical findings at this establishment, you decide that you will verify the establishments handling and driving practices as cattle are being off loaded and as cattle are being moved up the single file chute to the stunning area (knocking area).
You are aware that 9 CFR 313.1 (a) & (b) provide that the construction and maintenance of the floors of ramps, pens, and alleyways must be such that they provide adequate traction for livestock and prevent injury; 9 CFR 313.2(a) specifies cattle should be moved with a minimum of excitement and at no more than walking speed; and 9 CFR 313.2(b) states overuse of electrical prods should be avoided.
You first go to the cattle receiving area to observe cattle being off-loaded from the truck. The trucks have backed up to the unloading area, and the truck driver and establishment employees start to unload cattle. So, as not to distract the cattle, you locate yourself so that cattle will not balk when they see your white coat. The establishment utilizes a variety of equipment to move the cattle. Employees have garbage bags, sticks with flags on the ends, rattle paddles, and battery operated prods. The employees are using calm voices and moving the cattle with minimal excitement down the ramp. They are not yelling at the cattle or waving their arms in excess to get them moving onto the off-loading ramp. You also observe that the cattle have adequate footing and are not slipping or falling as they move down the ramp and into the alleyways.
Suddenly, you notice that a group of cattle balk and refuse to go down an off-loading ramp adjacent to the one you had been observing. The truck driver begins to get agitated raising his voice and using the electric prod to force a few of the cattle to move. You observe the use of the prod and make a determination that it is not excessive on any individual animal, nor is it being used on sensitive portions of the cattle. A few of the cattle are vocalizing, but the animals that are vocalizing are not the same cattle that the truck driver has tapped with the prod. The pen manager notices that the cattle are looking at a sweatshirt that has been hung on a post by the off-loading ramp and has it removed. Once it has been removed, the cattle again move down the ramp, and the truck driver lays down the electric prod.
Next, you move to the single-file chute that leads to the stunning area (knocking box) and observe cattle being driven up the chute to the knocking-box. Because it can be difficult to move cattle in this area and being familiar with the establishment policy to permit the use of battery operated prods in this area, you verify that establishment personnel are not over-using the prods. During your observation, you note the prod being used on 8 of the cattle, and of these only 2 vocalize. The prod is never used on the anus, eyes, or other sensitive parts of the cattle. You also note that the prod is never used excessively on any of the cattle. You observe only a few head of cattle losing traction as they moved up the chute and no animal fell.
You ask the establishment employee in the drive area how often he is allowed to use the prod, and he states he is allowed to use it on a maximum of 25% of the cattle. However, the employee adds that he has been instructed by his plant management to use his flag as the primary driving tool and the electric prod as a last resort. You then ask about vocalizations, and he states the establishments goal for him is to have no more that 3% of the beef vocalize. You are confident that the observation confirms the establishment is meeting the requirement of 313.2(b) by minimizing excitement and injury as well as avoiding overuse of electrical prods.
As the IIC you determine that the plant is using a systematic approach for humane handling of animals by using a variety of approaches for handling animals. You felt that the pen manager was very astute to notice the sweatshirt and to gain control of the situation in off-loading animals. Further, you are aware that the establishment has chosen to follow and has trained its employees using the American Meat Institute Recommended Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide 2007 Edition to meet the regulatory requirements regarding electrical prodding. You share with establishment management that, while this document is not regulatory in nature, it is an excellent guideline to assist in ensuring that the establishment is in fact meeting the regulatory requirement that states that it should be minimizing excitement and injury and avoiding excessive use of electrical prods.
Note: You document specific times you spent performing those verification activities in the eADRS Humane Activities Tracking System (HATS), as described in FSIS Notice 16-08, Humane Handling Activities and Documentation in Livestock Slaughter Establishments. Time is documented in Categories IV, II, VI and VII. [ View Image] (PDF Only)
Finally, you indicate in PBIS, the procedure code 04C02 as performedby marking the letter A. [ View Image] (PDF Only)
- 9 CFR 313.2(a) Driving of livestock from the unloading ramps to the holding pens and from the holding pens to the stunning area shall be done with a minimum of excitement and discomfort to the animals. Livestock shall not be forced to move faster than a normal walking speed.
- 9 CFR 313.2(b) Handling of livestock. Electric prods, canvas slappers, or other implements employed to drive animals shall be used as little as possible in order to minimize excitement and injury. Any use of such implements which, in the opinion of the inspector, is excessive, is prohibitive. Electrical prods attached to AC house current shall be reduced by a transformer to the lowest effective voltage not to exceed 50 volts AC.
- 9 CFR 313.1(b) Floors of livestock pens, ramps, and driveways shall be constructed and maintained so as to provide good footing for livestock. Slip resistant or waffled floor surfaces, cleated ramps and the use of sand, as appropriate, during winter months are examples of acceptable construction and maintenance.