Humane Methods of Slaughter Act


Originally passed in 1958, the law that is enforced today by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) was passed as the Humane Slaughter Act of 1978. This Act requires the proper treatment and humane handling of all food animals slaughtered in USDA inspected slaughter plants. It does not apply to chickens or other birds.

Contact the USDA Humane Handling Ombudsman if you have a humane handling related comment or concern or wish to file a complaint.



Spotlights

Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (7 USC, 1901-1907)

Government Printing Office.

Statutory Sections comprising the Humane Slaughter Act. Included are Congress' statement that livestock must be slaughtered in a humane manner to prevent needless suffering, research methods on humane methods of slaughter, the nonapplicability of these statutes to religious or ritual slaughter, and the investigation into the care of nonambulatory livestock.


Compliance Assistance: Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter

USDA. Food Safety and Inspection Service.

This page provides links to regulations, FSIS directives and notices, enforcement reports, and training materials.


Horse Slaughter Prevention Bills and Issues (PDF | 206 KB)

Congressional Research Service.

Provides an overview of Federal legislation, including proposed laws, relating to the topic of horse slaughter. (Updated August 15, 2012)


USDA Meat Inspection and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (PDF | 72 KB)

Congressional Research Service.

This February 2008 document provides an overview of the livestock slaughter inspection process and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.


Nonambulatory Livestock and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (PDF | 148 KB)

Congressional Research Service.

This March 2009 publication addresses non-ambulatory livestock and the Humane Slaughter Act.


GAO Reports & Testimonies: Humane Methods of Slaughter Act

US Government Accountability Office.

Reports produced by the GAO about enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.


GAO Report: Horse Welfare - Domestic Slaughter, 2011 (PDF | 3.5MB)

Government Accountability Office.

Congress directed GAO to examine horse welfare since cessation of domestic slaughter in 2007. The study was completed and published June 22, 2011. Highlights Page (PDF | 73.7KB) Full Report (PDF | 3.5MB)


In the News

Monday, March 31, 2014 - 14:57
USDA. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

WASHINGTON, October 23, 2013 –Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will introduce new guidance—FSIS Compliance Guide for a Systematic Approach to the Humane Handling of Livestock—to support the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Proper implementation of this guidance will better ensure the humane treatment of livestock presented for slaughter, as it provides establishments a set of practices that will assist them in minimizing excitement, discomfort and accidental injury.