USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) proposed changes it says are aimed to improve both humane handling and food safety inspections at facilities that produce veal meat.
According to FSIS, the proposal would require that veal calves that are brought to slaughter, but cannot rise and walk, be promptly and humanely euthanized, and prohibited from entering the food supply.
FSIS currently allows for veal calves that are unable to rise to be set aside where they can be warmed or rested before they are again presented for slaughter if they are able to regain the ability to walk. However, FSIS says it has found this policy may contribute to the inhumane treatment of the animals and granted a 2013 petition by the Humane Society of the United States that asked for the removal of the policy.
“This proposed rule would improve compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act by encouraging improved treatment of veal calves, as well as improve inspection efficiency by allowing FSIS inspection program personnel to devote more time to activities related to food safety,” FSIS said.
Since 2004, the agency outlawed the slaughter of non-ambulatory cattle for human food because this inability to rise could be a symptom of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). FSIS says that while BSE is not a serious risk in cattle younger than 30 months of age, the regulations apply to all cattle, including veal calves.
More information on the proposed rule change can be found here.