Humane handling was a focus of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) latest rule updates for veal calves.

The changes require veal calves need to be able to rise and walk promptly. If the animals are unable to get up they will be euthanized and are prohibited from entering the food supply.

Prior FSIS rules allowed calves to be set aside so they could rest or warm up and regain the strength to walk before slaughter. The government organization believes this could have contributed to some inhumane treatment of veal calves.

Inspectors for FSIS now have the authority to do an inspection prior to slaughter and condemn non-ambulatory calves the moment they arrive at a processing facility.

“FSIS is dedicated to ensuring that veal calves presented for slaughter at FSIS-inspected facilities are treated humanely,” says Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “Prohibiting the slaughter of all non-ambulatory veal calves will continue this commitment and improve compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.”  

According to a release from USDA, the changes followed a 2013 petition by the Humane Society of the United States to remove rules that allowed calves to regain the ability to walk prior to processing.

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