North American Meat Institute Releases Revised Edition of Animal Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide

26 September 2019

The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute), with which the U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association (USHSLA) is affiliated, released its latest science-based animal care guidelines and audit for the meat industry. The guidelines and audit were authored by Colorado State University Professor of Animal Behavior Temple Grandin PhD, working with the Meat Institute’s Animal Welfare Committee.

“The meat and poultry industry is always looking for ways to improve humane animal handling for both the welfare of the animal and the safety of our workforce,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “The new Animal Handling Guidelines and Audit are the product of member company participation with the guidance of the Meat Institute’s veterinarian Dr. Tiffany Lee and the world’s foremost expert on animal welfare and the meat industry, Dr. Temple Grandin.”

“It is important to update these guidelines in order to facilitate continuous improvement of animal welfare standards in the meat industry,” said Grandin.

The revised “Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines & Audit Guide: A Systemic Approach to Animal Welfare” can be found here.

Major changes in this year’s edition include:

  • Adding a new section about how to handle occasions when there is a non-ambulatory or disabled animal on a truck and in the yard
  • Providing a new definition of “non-ambulatory animal” consistent with U.S. and Canadian regulations
  • Justifying using 100 head as the recommended sample size
  • Allowing plants to determine, using outcomes-based measures, when water should be provided to animals in drive alleys, which follows Food Safety and Inspection Service policy.

The Meat Institute’s audit was originally developed by Grandin in 1997 and its adoption by meat companies helped transform how livestock are handled and processed in meat plants. Grandin premised the concept of an animal welfare audit on the idea that “you manage what you measure.” By measuring objective criteria like animal vocalisations, falls prod use to move animals, effective stunning, and other objective criteria, she argued that plants could evaluate their animal handling practices, identify problems and drive continuous improvement. The Meat Institute agreed with her view and invited her to write it.

Since then data collected by Dr. Grandin show that important animal handling and stunning improvements have been made over time in plants thanks to the widespread use of the guidelines and the audit.

Additional resources on animal handling can be found at Among the Meat Institute’s most popular resources is its Glass Walls series of videos in which Dr. Grandin offers unscripted tours of cattle, pig, sheep and turkey plants. The videos have been viewed more than two million times. 

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