WASHINGTON – A new rule gives federal inspectors the authority to conduct ante-mortem inspections and to condemn disabled, non-ambulatory veal calves the moment they arrive at a processing plant.

Under the final rule, veal calves brought to slaughter that cannot rise and walk must promptly be humanely euthanized and cannot enter the food supply, the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Dept. of Agriculture reported. USDA also removed a provision that requires ante-mortem inspections to be conducted in pens. The agency expects the changes will improve humane handling inspections at facilities that process veal meat.

“FSIS is dedicated to ensuring that veal calves presented for slaughter at FSIS-inspected facilities are treated humanely,” Deputy Undersecretary Al Almanza, said in a notice publicizing the changes.

“Prohibiting the slaughter of all non-ambulatory veal calves will continue this commitment and improve compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.”

The rule will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. A draft of the final rule is available on the FSIS website.