Target: The US Department of Agriculture
Goal: Ensure livestock animals are not forced to endure torturous conditions.
The Humane Slaughter Act, passed in 1958, was designed to decrease the suffering of livestock killed for purposes of consumption. However, due to the desire to increase production, and therefore, profit, this federal law has been largely ignored by both the meat industry and the USDA, alike.
Numerous exposés have shown the dark side of the meat industry. Various activists and press alike have reported on the barbaric and often torturous conditions that the animals are forced to endure before and during their final hours. It started as a slow trickle of complaints, shedding light on missed bolt shots or ill-timed electrocutions that left animals stunned, but still fully aware as they were skinned, scalded, or their throats cut. This steady stream of stories gained traction, and has now swollen to a full-fledged public outcry as more and more Humane Slaughter Act violations are made brought to light.
An astounding 44,216 food safety violations were reported at 616 slaughterhouses across the US in the past four years. Of these violations, only 28 suspensions were doled out by the USDA. These violations included filthy plant conditions and infected animals, among others.
Perhaps more disturbing than the lack of punishment is the lack of supervision over one of the USDA’s own pilot programs. Implemented 15 years ago, the program was intended to test whether or not production could be increased and the number of inspectors reduced, in an effort to streamline operations. It has been allowed to run largely unchecked, for more than 15 years. While instances of animal abuse and complete disregard of the Humane slaughter Act have been reported, officials speculate that these reports most likely make up a small percentage of actual violations.
One example of a reported violation includes an inspector at a Pennsylvania slaughterhouse witnessing a pig being stunned and having its throat cut. The pig regained consciousness and was able to right its head, kick, make noise and splash in reaction to being placed in a tub of scalding water-fully conscious.
It is important to note that while the Humane Slaughter Act protects cows, pigs, horses and mules, it does not apply to other livestock animals-including chickens. The slaughter of chickens in the US is basically unregulated.
It is the USDA’s responsibility to enforce regulations pertaining to livestock animals. Hold them accountable for the thousands of violations that have been ignored and unpunished and urge them to take responsible action by increasing regulations and enforcement.
As the regulatory body for all agriculture-related issues in the United States, we urge you to not only see to it that the Humane Slaughter Act is enforced, but also that you adopt stricter regulations in regards to livestock slaughter practices.
The fact that 44, 216 violations have occurred within the past 4 years including food safety, plant conditions and animal mistreatment and only 26 suspensions have been handed out to violators shows that the current legislation is not being adequately enforced. If these regulations are not routinely enforced, offenders will have no deterrent from perpetrating more violations.
We appreciate your dedication to livestock safety and for recognizing that a marginal profit increase does not warrant the torture and degradation of animals. Furthermore, it is not worth risking the health and well-being of the American people, as many of these violations compromise the safety of our food.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: visualphotos.com