Constituent Update - November 8, 2013
FSIS Unveils Humane Handling HIKE Scenario
An Egregious Humane Handling Noncompliance in an Establishment with a Robust Systematic Approach Plan to Humane Handling: HIKE 01-13
You are the Inspector-In-Charge (IIC) of a large federally inspected hog slaughter establishment. After performing ante-mortem inspections, you are walking back to the kill floor to perform post-mortem dispositions when you hear the sound of a hog squealing loudly. The sound is coming from the livestock unloading area. You go to the unloading area and observe a truck driver and an establishment employee drag a sow, by the back legs, down the unloading ramp of the trailer. The sow is still squealing loudly. You immediately inform the employee to stop dragging the sow, and the employee informs the truck driver that they should stop. You place a “U.S. Rejected” tag on the doorway between the trailer and the unloading bay to prevent any further unloading of animals.
The sow is on the ramp, sitting on its haunches with its front legs extended to support the rest of its body. The sow is not able to stand and ambulate. You determine that the sow is disabled, non-ambulatory and conscious. The establishment is noncompliant with 9 CFR 313.2 (d) (2) and you know that this noncompliance is egregious. Following the requirements of 9 CFR 313.50 (b), you attach U.S. Rejected tags to the alleyways leading to the stunning area to prevent any further slaughter.
NOTE: FSIS Directive 6900.2 provides a definition for egregious inhumane treatment and one of the examples given for egregious inhumane treatment is “Excessive beating or prodding of ambulatory or nonambulatory disabled animals or dragging of conscious animals.”
You locate establishment management (the livestock barn supervisor), describe the noncompliance and inform the supervisor that you have taken a regulatory control action in accordance with 9 CFR 500.2 (a) (4). Additionally, you inform the supervisor that you will immediately call the District Office because the noncompliance may result in a suspension action or a notice of intended enforcement action. You inform the supervisor that hogs already slaughtered may be further processed, but that there will be no further federally inspected slaughter until this issue is resolved.
You contact your Front Line Supervisor (FLS), District Veterinary Medical Specialist (DVMS) and District Office (DO) to inform them of the regulatory control action and to discuss and assess your observations of the noncompliance. In addition, you provide the DVMS with the following information:
- As the IIC, you previously determined, in consultation with the DVMS, that the establishment has a written, robust systematic approach for humane handling of animals. The robust plan includes a procedure for handling disabled animals and discusses corrective actions in the case of a deviation from standard procedures.
- You have periodically reviewed the establishment audit records for humane handling and slaughter, and the establishment is effective in implementing its systematic approach.
- The establishment has no additional recent humane handling and slaughter noncompliances, including none for mishandling non-ambulatory disabled hogs.
After discussing the noncompliance with DO personnel and the DVMS, you make the following assessments:
- The egregious noncompliance is an atypical event;
- The establishment has a well-implemented robust systematic approach to humane handling of livestock that includes handling of suspect and disabled animals;
- The establishment has no recent history of humane handling and slaughter noncompliance and has never had a noncompliance for mishandling suspect and disabled animals.
Along with the DO, you recognize according to the instructions contained in FSIS Directive 6900.2 Rev.2, that when an establishment has a proven robust systematic approach to humane handling, you are to consider first whether a notice of intended enforcement action (NOIE) is warranted instead of a notice of suspension (NOS) in response to an egregious humane handling noncompliance.
Based on the discussion and assessment of the egregious noncompliance, you determine that a NOIE is appropriate rather than a NOS because of the existence of a written, robust systematic approach, the noncompliance history of the establishment and the atypical nature of the situation. You inform the establishment management of this decision. You advise establishment management that it will have 72 hours to respond to the NOIE. At this point, you also inform establishment management that in order to resume operations, it will need to take immediate corrective actions for the egregious noncompliance.
You begin to document the egregious noncompliance in a Memorandum-of-Interview (MOI) when the establishment’s manager presents to you the establishment’s immediate corrective actions. These corrective actions derive from the establishment’s corrective action plan for this type of egregious humane handling noncompliance.
The corrective actions are:
- The establishment employee and the truck driver have been removed from the livestock area for today.
- In addition to removing the employee in question from the workplace, consistent with the corrective action plan, the establishment has directed the employee to attend mandatory retraining in handling disabled, injured and non-ambulatory hogs before he can return to the livestock area.
- The establishment has told the truck driver that if he wants to continue to bring hogs onto the establishment’s premises, he must attend the same training as the employee. The truck driver agrees to take the training.
- The establishment will monitor the employee and truck driver’s progress after training.
You call the DO and discuss the proffered corrective action with DO personnel. In consultation with the DO, you decide to accept the corrective action. You remove the U.S. Rejected tags from the alleyways and unloading ramp. You finish documenting the egregious noncompliance in the MOI, in PHIS, by entering a Livestock Humane Handling task. Because you are writing an MOI (rather than an NR) you mark in the Findings tab, “non-regulatory concern;” the NOIE will also document the noncompliance. The DVMS and DO will use the information supplied in the MOI to write the NOIE. In the MOI, you document the time and date of the event, and a description of the incident. Before the end of your work shift, you document this time in HATS Categories II and V. You close the task at the end of your work shift.
NOTE: A copy of the completed MOI is given to the establishment.
This prudent establishment reviews its robust humane handling systematic approach plan and determines that it needs to initiate additional training on handling disabled and non-ambulatory hogs for truck drivers and haulers and to provide a back-up plan for pen handlers moving slow or disabled hogs The establishment incorporates the changes into its humane handling plan and monitoring records. The DO reviews the establishment’s revisions and identifies some concerns. The establishment resolves the concerns, and the DO notifies the establishment that the NOIE is deferred and the effectiveness of the corrective actions in their Verification Plan will be monitored by the IIC.
The following references should be used when studying this HIKE:
- 9 CFR 313.2 Handling of livestock.
(d) Disabled livestock and other animals unable to move.
(1) Disabled animals and other animals unable to move shall be separated from normal ambulatory animals and placed in the covered pen provided for in Sec. 313.1 (c).
(2) The dragging of disabled animals and other animals unable to move, while conscious, is prohibited. Stunned animals may, however, be dragged.
(3) Disabled animals and other animals unable to move may be moved, while conscious, on equipment suitable for such purposes; e.g., stone boats.
- 9 CFR 313.50 (b) Tagging of equipment, alleyways, pens, or compartments to prevent inhumane slaughter or handling in connection with slaughter.
(b) If the cause of inhumane treatment is the result of establishment employee actions in the handling or moving of livestock, the inspector shall attach a “U.S. Rejected” tag to the alleyways leading to the stunning area. After the tagging of the alleyway, no more livestock shall be moved to the stunning area until the inspector receives satisfactory assurances from the establishment operator that there will not be a recurrence. The tag shall not be removed by anyone other than an inspector. All livestock slaughtered prior to the tagging may be dressed, processed, or prepared under inspection.
- 9 CFR 500.2 (a) (4), Regulatory Control Action
(a) FSIS may take a regulatory control action because of:
(4) Inhumane handling or slaughtering of livestock.
Please visit the following websites for more information:
- Direct link: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/inspection/workforce-training/hike/archive/2013/hike-01-13
- Main HIKE Scenarios page: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/inspection/workforce-training/hike/hike-scenarios
- Humane Handling and Slaughter of Livestock (PDF Only): http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/f66a1cb7-7dcb-41a2-946e-7b12a2775c10/6900_121.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
- Federal Register Notice: September 9, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 174, pages 54625-54627): http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FRPubs/04-013N.pdf
FSIS Policy Update
FSIS issues notices and directives to protect public health. All notices and directives are available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations. The following policy updates and directives were recently issued:
- Notice 72-13, Issuance of a New Humane Handling Compliance Guideline
- Notice 73-13, Instructions for Carcass Selection for the National Residue Program Scheduled Samples
- Directive 1300.4, Revision 1
- Directive 3410.4, Revision 1 Prompt Payment of Bills
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for the following areas:
- Dominican Republic
Complete information can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products.
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Find food safety information for at-risk people, along with tips and resources to keep consumers and other interested groups informed of the latest agency news and events. Follow FSIS on Twitter at www.twitter.com/USDAFoodSafety.
Also Tweet en Español
The FSIS Spanish language Twitter feed keeps consumers and other interested communities informed of the latest agency news and events and provides useful food safety tips. Follow FSIS’ Spanish Twitter account at www.twitter.com/usdafoodsafe_es.
Get Answers at askFSIS
AskFSIS is a web-based technology and policy question-and-answer forum on topics such as exporting, labeling, inspection, programs and procedures.
In addition, askFSIS offers Really Simple Syndication feeds that link back to the Q&As. Visit http://askfsis.custhelp.com/ to view recently posted topics.
Food Safety Discovery Zone!
The Food Safety Discovery Zone is planning its 2014 schedule of events. Please visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/usda-food-safety-discovery-zone-mobile/event-schedule-by-date/fsdz-events-by-date for dates, locations and times.
Equine Litigation Update
On Friday, November 1, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico issued a ruling and order denying Front Range Equine Rescue et al.’s petition for an order permanently enjoining FSIS from granting or conducting federal inspection for commercial horse slaughter unless the agency first completes an environmental assessment (EA) or an environmental impact statement (EIS) for said inspection pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The Court found that FSIS Directive 6130.1 and its drug residue-testing program did not require the preparation of an EA or EIS or the invocation of the agency’s categorical exception from NEPA requirements. It also found that a grant of federal inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act is a mandatory action that is not subject to NEPA review. The Court therefore denied the injunction, affirmed the agency’s decisions with respect to all grants of federal inspection for commercial horse slaughter to date, and dismissed all of plaintiffs’ remaining claims with prejudice.
The following day, plaintiffs filed a notice of their intention to appeal the District Court decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. They also filed an emergency motion asking that FSIS be enjoined from granting federal inspection or assigning federal inspectors to commercial horse slaughter plants while their appeal is being heard.
On Monday, November 4, the Appellate Court issued a temporary restraining order directing FSIS not to grant inspection or assign inspectors to horse slaughter plants while it considers plaintiffs’ motion. Defendants filed their opposition briefs on Thursday, November 7, and plaintiffs’ reply briefs are due by close of business on Friday, November 8.
Spanish-Language Virtual Expert Answers Food Safety Questions on Your Smartphone
FSIS’ Spanish-language food safety app is available to consumers around the clock on their mobile devices. Mobile Pregúntele a Karen is the Spanish-language version of Mobile Ask Karen, the virtual expert who answers Smartphone users’ questions about properly handling, storing and preparing food to prevent illness. The English version of Mobile Ask Karen was launched in May 2011.
Both Mobile Pregúntele a Karen, which is optimized for iOS and Android devices, and the desktop-based Pregúntele a Karen are available 24 hours a day at m.PregunteleaKaren.gov or www.PregunteleaKaren.gov.
Consumers can also e-mail, chat with a live representative, or call USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features on the app, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in Spanish and English from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.