FSIS Publishes Final Rule Prohibiting Slaughter of ?Downer? Cattle

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a permanent prohibition on the slaughter of cattle that are unable to stand or walk ("downer" cattle) when presented for pre-slaughter inspection. The inability to stand or walk can be a clinical sign of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

Under the rule, cattle that are injured after they pass pre-slaughter inspection will be reevaluated to determine their eligibility for slaughter. Veal calves that cannot stand because they are tired or cold may be set apart and held for treatment and re-inspection.

The rule published in the July 13 Federal Register makes permanent what had been an interim final rule prohibiting slaughter of non-ambulatory cattle in the United States. The final rule becomes effective Oct. 1, 2007.

[Ed. Note: The swine industry has argued against a similar ban being imposed on swine based on the fact that there are no TSE's in swine and that hogs fatigue easily during transport and that, if given an opportunity to rest, will fully recover and pose no threat for human consumption. In addition, FSIS inspectors at the processing facility inspect all animals prior to slaughter and determine their suitability to enter the human food chain thus making additional legislation unnecessary.]


FSIS Press Release, July 12, 2007