WASHINGTON – A definition of egregious inhumane treatment is part of a US Department of Agriculture directive designed to ensure the humane treatment and slaughter of livestock at FSIS-inspected facilities was issued Aug. 15 by the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

New instructions for inspection program personnel are provided in this directive to ensure that treatment of livestock during handling and slaughter minimizes the animals’ amount of excitement, pain, injury or discomfort. It includes a definition for egregious inhumane treatment. Under this definition, an egregious situation is any act or condition that results in severe harm to animals, which includes the excessive beating or prodding of disabled livestock, stunning animals and allowing them to regain consciousness, or any treatment causing unnecessary pain and suffering.

“USDA is deeply committed to ensuring the humane treatment of livestock at federally-inspected establishments,” said Undersecretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “We are honoring that commitment with clear guidance and better training for our inspection program personnel.”