The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) asking that the agency require all slaughter establishments to create and implement written animal-handling plans to decrease the “needless suffering of animals during slaughter.”

Citing more than 1,000 humane slaughter violations that allegedly occurred at state and federally inspected slaughter plants from 2007 through 2012, AWI calls on FSIS to write regulations that require (i) “all workers who have contact with animals be trained in humane handling,” (ii) “stunning equipment be routinely tested and maintained,” and (iii) “backup stunning devices be available in both the stunning and holding areas of every slaughter plant.”

According to AWI, the agriculture department recommended eight years ago that all slaughter plants take a “systematic approach to humane slaughter by developing a comprehensive, written animal handling plan,” yet just 35 percent of federally inspected plants and few state-inspected plants evidently have such plans in place. “It is disturbing that slaughterhouses are allowed to kill animals without having such a plan in place,” said AWI President Cathy Liss. “It is equally unacceptable that untrained employees are allowed to handle and slaughter the animals, and that routine testing of equipment used to stun animals is not required.” See AWI News Release, June 4, 2013.