Slaughtering of Downer Cattle to be Banned in US

US - The United States Department of Agriculture has taken steps to ban the slaughtering of downer cows and end all exceptions to the animal handling rule.
calendar icon 22 May 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

According to Senator Kohl from Wisconsin, "A strictly enforceable downer ban will eliminate confusion and move the ball forward on food safety and humane standards while restoring consumer faith in a vital American sector."

USDA had banned downer cattle from food use after the mad-cow disease was found in the U.S. in December 2003. However, the ruling was modified in July 2007 to allow veterinarians to decide on a case-by-case basis whether an animal could be slaughtered.

"I told the American people and the United States Congress that I was going to treat this issue with the utmost urgency"
Agriculture Secratary Ed Schafer

Agriculture Secratary Ed Schafer announced the news this week. He said: "One day after I was sworn in as Secretary of Agriculture, I learned of the illegal acts of inhumane handling that took place at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company in Chino, California. I immediately called upon the Office of the Inspector General and the Food Safety and Inspection Service to determine how this happened and what could be done in the future to ensure that animals are treated humanely.

"I told the American people and the United States Congress that I was going to treat this issue with the utmost urgency, and do everything in my power to appropriately address this problem and work to strengthen consumer confidence in our food supply. "

Last year, of the nearly 34 million cattle that were slaughtered, under 1,000 cattle that were re-inspected were actually approved by the veterinarian for slaughter. This represents less than 0.003 percent of cattle slaughtered annually.

He said that, the current rule, which focuses on cattle that went down after they have already passed pre-slaughter inspection, has been challenging to communicate and has, at times, been confusing to consumers.

Ed Shafer went on to say that "to maintain consumer confidence in the food supply, eliminate further misunderstanding of the rule and, ultimately, to make a positive impact on the humane handling of cattle, I believe it is sound policy to simplify this matter by initiating a complete ban on the slaughter of downer cattle that go down after initial inspection.

"FSIS will draft a proposed rule to remove the exception that allows certain injured cattle to proceed to slaughter. This action is expected to provide additional efficiencies to food safety inspection by removing the step that requires inspection workforce to determine when non-ambulatory cattle are safe to slaughter."

The decision to ban all non-ambulatory cattle from slaughter will positively impact the humane handling of cattle by reducing the incentive to send marginally weakened cattle to market.

The USDA believes that cattle producers, transporters and slaughter establishments alike will be encouraged to enhance humane handling practices, as there will no longer be any market for cattle that are too weak to rise or walk on their own.

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.