WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service is getting out the word about new humane-handling guidelines the agency recently released. This is the first edition of "FSIS Compliance Guide for a Systematic Approach to the Humane Handling of Livestock".

The new guidance represents the agency's current thinking on humane -handling practices, and FSIS is encouraging establishments to use the guide as needed. The guide includes a sample humane handling plan and an assessment tool.

"FSIS believes that a well-implemented systematic approach for humane handling is the best way to achieve the best practices for humane handling and slaughter of livestock," the agency noted in the guide. "This guide describes a systematic approach that FSIS believes represents the current best practices."

The guide is intended to be a starting point for livestock firms needing guidance on humane handling. FSIS is requesting comments on the document, and said the agency would make appropriate changes to the document in response to comments.