While it only addresses cattle, a recent move by The American Meat Institute sets an interesting tone worth noting. AMI, the National Meat Association and the National Milk Producers Federation, this week, filed a Citizen Petition with USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service requesting that it amend the rules so that non-ambulatory, disabled cattle are not permitted into the meat supply under any circumstance.
This particular petition requests that the rule — 9 CFR 309.3 — be amended to eliminate the provision that authorizes a public-health veterinarian to allow, in limited circumstances, cattle that become non-ambulatory after passing antemortem inspection to enter the food supply.
Further, AMI and NMA have pledged to advice meat processors voluntarily agree not to slaughter and process non-ambulatory cattle until FSIS has prepared a final rule affecting the requested change.
"It makes good sense to rescind the provision allowing non-ambulatory cattle to be re-inspected for slaughter," said J. Patrick Boyle, AMI president and chief executive officer. "Allowing the current rule to remain in force could ultimately undermine the confidence of U.S. consumers and foreign customers, in markets that are proving difficult to reopen in the first place."
This follows a proposed bill in California, home of the controversial Hallmark/Westland packing/processing plant, that would prevent downed animals across species from being slaughtered in that state and entering the food supply. On a national level, it also follows multiple food safety hearings that Congress has held over the past several weeks, some of which were quite heated.
The fact that this proposal comes from the industries involved will encourage its quick acceptance. It also will shed the dairy, beef and processing industries in a more proactive light.