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FSIS Report on Inhumane Handling at Red Meat Establishments-Implications for USDA Support of “Small Abattoirs”


On January 5th the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a list of 50 enforcement actions against establishments that were in violation of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act during 2021.  All but three of the citations were for small-scale meat packing establishments, lockers or plants using ritual slaughter and one meat laboratory operated by a Land Grant University. Three large plants received citations for violations involving improper supervision during stunning of hogs.


The 47 other citations resulting in suspension of operations involved egregious deviation from accepted practices for stunning mature cattle, calves or hogs.  Problems identified by FSIS inspectors included inappropriate equipment, lack of training and supervision and non-compliance with standard procedures resulting in extreme cruelty.


The problem of inappropriate stunning and slaughter of livestock in small abattoirs should be considered in the context of the USDA program to expand processing of red meat.  Attempts to reduce the dominance of the four major meat packers will require considerable expenditure of public funds. This will inevitably be associated with unintended consequences. It is hoped that in planning for the proposed expansion of facilities that the various agencies within the USDA will coordinate their activities to ensure that standards of buildings, equipment, training of personnel and inspection match existing large plants as the program, stated to cost $1 billion is implemented.