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Humane Handling

This page provides information and resources related to the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act of 1978 [7 USC 1901–1906], which states that the handling and slaughtering of livestock are to be carried out only by humane methods.

Statutes and Regulations

Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act (7 USC, 1901 - 1907)
These statutory sections comprise what is commonly termed the Humane Slaughter Act. Included in these sections are Congress' statement that livestock must be slaughtered in a humane manner to prevent needless suffering, research methods on humane methods of slaughter, the nonapplicability of these statutes to religious or ritual slaughter, and the investigation into the care of nonambulatory livestock.

Humane Slaughter of Livestock Regulations (9 CFR 313) | PDF
The CFR is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government.


FSIS Directives and Federal Register Notices

FSIS Directive 6900.2 - Humane Handling and Slaughter of Livestock 
This directive informs inspection program personnel of the requirements, verification activities, and enforcement actions for ensuring that the handling and slaughter of livestock, including the slaughter of livestock by religious ritual methods, is humane.

Docket No. FSIS-2013-0003 | PDF (Oct 29, 2013)
Availability of FSIS Compliance Guide for a Systematic Approach to the Humane Handling of Livestock

Docket No. FSIS-2008-0022 (Mar 18, 2009; PDF Only)
Requirements for the Disposition of Cattle that Become Non-Ambulatory Disabled Following Ante-Mortem Inspection

Docket No. 04-013N | PDF (Sep 9, 2004)
Humane Handling and Slaughter Requirements and the Merits of a Systematic Approach To Meet Such Requirements


Enforcement Reports 

Humane Handling Enforcement Actions
Listing of official enforcement actions FSIS has taken against establishments that have been found in violation of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

Humane Handling Quarterly Reports
Archival information. FSIS quarterly reports covering fiscal years 2011-2013 summarizing humane handling-related activities in livestock slaughter establishments including:

  • Livestock slaughter information in head slaughtered
  • Hours of in-plant humane handling verification activities
  • Non-compliance record information
  • Suspension of slaughter operations

Review of Appeals of Humane Handling Noncompliance Records
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit report finds that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) appropriately handles industry appeals of its humane handling enforcement actions.


Training 

Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines & Audit Guide: A Systematic Approach to Animal Welfare 
Guide produced by the American Meat Institute based on research by Dr. Temple Grandin.

Humane Handling of Livestock and Poultry Booklet
An educational guidebook based on FSIS policies.

Humane Slaughter - Livestock Slaughter Inspection Training
This chapter in the Livestock Slaughter Inspection Training Manual provides information for new FSIS Food Inspectors regarding humane slaughter of livestock.

Humane Interactive Knowledge Exchange (HIKE)
Through the use of fictional scenarios, HIKE allows an employee to review FSIS requirements, and hopefully, to correlate with his or her work-group and supervisor regarding the application of those requirements.

See Also: Regional Training: Humane Handling of Livestock


News and Additional Resources 

Humane Handling of Livestock Blogs
Access USDA blogs with the tag "humane handling."

askFSIS about Humane Handling
The askFSIS knowledge base covers topics such as exporting, labeling, inspection, programs and procedures.

Humane Slaughter - Key Facts (Jan 2012)
USDA considers humane methods of handling animals and humane slaughter operations a priority, and has a Farm Animal Well Being Task Force to address sound standards for the care, handling, transporting, and slaughter of farm animals. 

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Specified Risk Material (SRM) Guidance Materials and Resources
Guidance materials and resources on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Specified Risk Material (SRM) provides assistance to producers, agricultural businesses and inspection program personnel in maintaining compliance with mandatory food safety and inspection legislation.

FSIS Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Resources
News, risk assessment results, and other resources related to BSE.

Last Modified Jul 13, 2017