The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing its intent to hold livestock owners, transporters, haulers and other persons not employed by an official establishment responsible if they commit acts involving inhumane handling of livestock in connection with slaughter when on the premises of an official establishment.
The agency intends to initiate civil or criminal action, in appropriate circumstances, against individuals not employed by an official establishment if these individuals handle livestock inhumanely in connection with slaughter when on the official premises.
FSIS believes these actions will further improve the welfare of livestock handled in connection with slaughter by ensuring that all people who inhumanely handle livestock in connection with slaughter are held accountable.
Livestock transporters or haulers transport animals to slaughter establishments. Many of these individuals are not employed by the establishment and, thus, are not required to follow instructions from the establishment on the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter.
Unlike owners of federal establishments, non-employees, such as livestock transporters, generally do not hold a grant of federal inspection and, therefore, are not subject to FSIS administrative enforcement actions. When non-employee transporters inhumanely handle livestock on the premises of an official establishment, FSIS takes action against the establishment.
On Jan. 21, 2015, FSIS received a petition from an attorney on behalf of an official swine slaughter establishment requesting that FSIS review its humane handling enforcement policy. The petition stated that official establishments should not be held accountable when non-employees inhumanely handle livestock on the official establishment premises. FSIS is publishing this notice to announce that it has decided to grant the petition.
When FSIS Office of Field Operations (OFO) inspection program personnel observe a non-employee inhumanely handling livestock in connection with slaughter, FSIS will instruct them to produce a written record of the event and forward the record to their district office. The district office will refer the record, when appropriate, to the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement & Audit to conduct follow-up investigations and enforcement action.
If FSIS determines that a non-employee is solely responsible for a humane handling violation, FSIS will use its authority to initiate action solely against the non-employee and will not take administrative enforcement action against the establishment. For example, if OFO personnel observe a non-employee driving too fast, thus causing a few animals to slip and fall, and establishment employees are not involved in the event, FSIS will initiate action against the non-employee and will not take an administrative enforcement action against the establishment.
If FSIS determines that a non-employee and an establishment employee both are engaged in a humane handling violation, FSIS will use its authority to initiate action against the non-employee and also take a regulatory control action or administrative enforcement action, as appropriate, against the establishment.