1. It’s the law. The Federal Humane Slaughter Act provides the minimum humane handling standards meat plants must follow.
Most meat plants adopt voluntary guidelines and use audits to exceed federal humane handling regulations.
2. 95 Percent of U.S. beef, pork, and lamb products are produced in plants that follow guidelines and a welfare audit authored by leading animal welfare expert Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
50 percent of beef and 20 percent of pork are also produced in facilities Grandin designed.
3. Animals that are handled calmly and humanely produce higher quality meat.
When an animal is stressed due to heat, anxiety, rough treatment, or environmental factors, dark spots in beef or pale soft spots in pork may appear. These parts of the meat must be trimmed away.
4. Livestock do not know they are being slaughtered and cannot feel pain at the time of slaughter.
Federal law requires all animals to be made insensible to pain prior to slaughter, with an exception for livestock processed under Kosher and Halal religious rules. Other procedures are followed in these instances to ensure good welfare.
5. Plants create calm, low-stress environments that work with, rather than against, animals’ natural instincts.
Low-stress driving tools, like black plastic flags, are used to move animals through chutes and pens in ways that do not cause stress. Plants also strive to eliminate visual distractions that can frighten livestock, like dangling chains or hoses on the ground that can look like snakes to livestock.
6. Federal inspectors are present in meat plants at all times to supervise the humane treatment of livestock and ensure adherence to humane slaughter rules.
Inspectors have the authority to suspend operations if they observe violations of federal laws. No other sector of animal agriculture is regulated for animal handling practices as thoroughly as meat plants.
7. Livestock are transported to plants in specially designed trailers that keep them safe and secure.
These vehicles are equipped with vents to permit airflow.
8. Once livestock arrive at a plant, they are moved calmly and quietly to pens where they are given fresh water. Livestock held at plants for more than 24 hours - an unusual occurrence - must receive feed as well.
Animals kept in pens overnight must have plenty of room to lie down.
9. All meat is subject to federal humane handling regulations.
Some products bear additional animal welfare labels that signify that certain additional practices were used on farms.
10. Humane handling increases worker safety and improves employee morale.
Calm livestock reduce the chance that an employee will become injured.
11. Animal welfare is NOT synonymous with animal rights.
Animal welfare is concerned with the optimal care of animals and minimizing suffering. The animal rights philosophy rejects the use of animals for food, clothing, medical research, or entertainment.