WASHINGTON – The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service appears ready to change its policy on slaughter of downer veal calves at the request of The Humane Society of the United States.

HSUS petitioned the agency in 2009 to ban the slaughter of downer veal calves by closing a loophole in federal regulations that allows downer calves to be kept alive indefinitely. HSUS argued that the practice left the calves vulnerable to inhumane treatment. The petition followed an undercover video investigation by HSUS at a Vermont slaughterhouse that depicted animal abuses. The abuses occurred in front of an FSIS inspector, who failed to take remedial action or stop the abuse, according to HSUS.

“We are pleased the USDA is finally moving to address the serious animal welfare and food safety concerns associated with the slaughter of downer calves,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal protection litigation and investigations at The HSUS. “We urge the agency to move forward on this issue to protect young calves from inhumane handling and slaughter, and revise its regulations without further delay.”

FSIS notified HSUS about the change in policy, although the agency has not said when it will issue a proposed rule to implement the change.