[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 209 (Tuesday, October 29, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 64470-64471]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-25373]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

[Docket No. FSIS-2013-0003]


Availability of FSIS Compliance Guide for a Systematic Approach 
to the Humane Handling of Livestock

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability and opportunity for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing 
the availability of a compliance guide to assist livestock slaughter 
establishments in complying with the regulatory requirements for humane 
handling and slaughter of livestock. FSIS encourages operators of 
livestock slaughter establishments to follow this guidance.

DATES: The Agency must receive comments by December 30, 2013.

ADDRESSES: A downloadable version of the compliance guide is available 
to view and print at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance. No hard copies of the compliance guide have been 
published.
    FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on this notice. 
Comments may be submitted by either of the following methods:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: This Web site provides the ability to 
type short comments directly into the comment field on this Web page or 
attach a file for lengthier comments. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the on-line instructions at that site for 
submitting comments.
    Mail, including CD-ROMs, etc.: Send to Docket Room Manager, U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Patriots 
Plaza 3, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Mailstop 3782, Room 8-163B, 
Washington, DC 20250-3700.
    Hand- or courier-delivered submittals: Deliver to Patriots Plaza 3, 
355 E. Street SW., Room 8-163B, Washington, DC 20250-3700.
    Instructions: All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must 
include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2013-0003. Comments 
received in response to this docket will be made available for public 
inspection and posted without change, including any personal 
information, to http://www.regulations.gov.
    Docket: For access to background documents or to comments received, 
go to the FSIS Docket Room at Patriots Plaza 3, 355 E. Street SW., Room 
8-164, Washington, DC 20250-3700 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., 
Monday through Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rachel Edelstein, Assistant 
Administrator, Office of Policy and Program Development; Telephone: 
(202) 205-0495, or by Fax: (202) 720-2025.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) 
of 1978 (7 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.) requires the use of humane methods for 
handling and slaughtering livestock. The HMSA states that ``the use of 
humane methods in the slaughter of livestock prevents needless 
suffering; results in safer and better working conditions for persons 
engaged in the slaughtering industry; brings about improvement of 
products and economies in slaughtering operations; and produces other 
benefits for producers, processors, and consumers which tend to 
expedite an orderly flow of livestock and livestock products in 
interstate and foreign commerce.''
    The HMSA is referenced in the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) 
(21 U.S.C. 603) and is implemented by FSIS humane handling and 
slaughter regulations found at 9 CFR part 313. Establishments are 
required to meet the humane handling and slaughter requirements in the 
regulations the entire time they hold livestock in connection with 
slaughter.
    On September 9, 2004, FSIS announced that livestock slaughter 
establishments should implement and maintain a systematic approach to 
humane handling and slaughter to best ensure compliance with the HMSA, 
FMIA, and the implementing regulations (69 FR 54625). A systematic 
approach is a comprehensive way of evaluating how livestock enter and 
move through an establishment. The 2004 notice outlined four steps 
establishments should take to develop and maintain a systematic 
approach. The guidance summarizes these four steps and states that 
under a systematic approach, establishments should:
    (1) Assess the ability of their livestock handling and slaughter 
practices to minimize distress and injury to livestock;
    (2) Design facilities and implement handling practices that 
minimize distress and injury to livestock;
    (3) Periodically evaluate facilities and handling methods to ensure 
that they continue to minimize distress and injury to livestock; and
    (4) When necessary, modify facilities and handling methods to 
ensure that they continue to minimize distress and injury to livestock.

[[Page 64471]]

    The guidance also explains that if an establishment takes this 
systematic approach and incorporates three additional features, FSIS 
would consider it a ``robust'' systematic approach. These three 
features are:
    (1) The establishment develops written procedures that it will 
implement to stay in compliance with the regulations or to come back 
into compliance should it fail to implement the program as written or 
fail to prevent noncompliance;
    (2) The establishment maintains written records that demonstrate 
that the program is being implemented as written, and that the program 
is effectively preventing identified potential noncompliances; and
    (3) These written procedures and records are made available for 
FSIS review upon request.

FSIS believes developing a written plan is a step toward a robust 
systematic approach to humane handling because a written plan can 
effectively address the four aspects of a systematic approach.
    The Agency has developed a compliance guide to assist 
establishments in developing, implementing, and maintaining a 
systematic approach to humane handling and slaughter of livestock to 
comply with the regulatory requirements. Although the guide sets out 
recommendations rather than requirements, FSIS encourages livestock 
slaughter establishments to follow this guidance. This guide represents 
FSIS's thinking, and FSIS will update it as necessary to reflect 
comments received any additional information that becomes available.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination 
in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, 
national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, 
sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited 
bases apply to all programs.)
    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for 
communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, 
etc.) should contact USDA's Target Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and 
TTY).
    To file a written complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office 
of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue 
SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TTY). 
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Additional Public Notification

    FSIS will announce this notice online through the FSIS Web page 
located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/federal-register.
    FSIS will also make copies of this Federal Register publication 
available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide 
information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal 
Register notices, FSIS public meetings, and other types of information 
that could affect or would be of interest to constituents and 
stakeholders. The Update is communicated via Listserv, a free 
electronic mail subscription service for industry, trade groups, 
consumer interest groups, health professionals, and other individuals 
who have asked to be included. The Update is also available on the FSIS 
Web page. In addition, FSIS offers an electronic mail subscription 
service which provides automatic and customized access to selected food 
safety news and information. This service is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/programs-and-services/email-subscription-service. Options range from recalls to export information 
to regulations, directives, and notices. Customers can add or delete 
subscriptions themselves, and have the option to password protect their 
accounts.

    Done at Washington, DC, on: October 23, 2013.
Alfred V. Almanza,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2013-25373 Filed 10-28-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P