The head of the Food Safety and Inspection Service had to clarify the agency's position on Burger King's petition for increased humane slaughter oversight, according to news reports. That clarification essentially is that FSIS will not grant Burger King's petition.

Acting FSIS Administrator Margaret Glavin, delivered this ruling Burger King Corp. to clarify a letter sent last month in which FSIS officials said they were drawing up a proposed rule that will address the humane-handling issue. Burger King misrepresented the letter to the news media, suggesting that FSIS granted its petition, which resulted in extensive publicity.

“It appears that you misunderstood the agency's response to your organization's petition,” Glavin wrote. “FSIS vigorously and aggressively enforces the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Under the HMSA, the Secretary has authority to immediately shut down a plant for humane handling or slaughter violations, and does so. FSIS inspectors and veterinarians are continuously present in the plants to ensure that plants comply…your assertion that FSIS does not fully enforce the HMSA is inaccurate.”

Glavin also pointed out that while FSIS is developing a proposed rule to streamline humane-handling regulations, the rulemaking is not a response to Burger King's petition. It stems from an earlier FSIS survey and report on humane handling.

“Your (Burger King) petition will be considered as part of that rulemaking,” Glavin wrote.