The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has requested comments on two petitions for rulemaking submitted by animal rights groups seeking reformed regulations concerning “the disposition of non-ambulatory disabled” livestock at slaughter. FSIS also plans to clarify its requirements for “condemned non-ambulatory disabled cattle at official slaughter establishments.”

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) apparently asked FSIS to “repeal a provision in its ante-mortem inspection regulations that permits veal calves that are unable to rise from a recumbent position and walk because they are tired or cold to be set apart and held for treatment.” Current provisions allow those calves, if found free of disease, “to proceed to slaughter if they are able to rise and walk after being warmed or rested” and ultimately processed for human food. HSUS has petitioned the agency to amend the regulations “to require that non-ambulatory disabled veal calves be condemned and promptly and humanely euthanized.” The petition asserts that the “set-aside” provision “encourages conduct such as dragging, kicking, excessive shocking, and other means of forced movement” in connection with slaughter.

Farm Sanctuary, a farm-animal protection organization, has petitioned FSIS to amend the federal meat inspection regulations “to prohibit the slaughter of non-ambulatory disabled pigs, sheep, goats, and other amenable livestock” for human food. Asserting that the practice encourages inhumane treatment, the petition also notes that prohibiting such slaughter “will encourage livestock producers and transporters to improve their handling practices” and that “such action is needed to prevent diseased animals from entering the human food supply.” FSIS has requested comments by April 8, 2011. See Federal Register, February 7, 2011.