The National Pork Producers Council is urging all U.S. pork producers to submit comments to USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service in opposition  to a petition presented from the animal right’s group, Farm Sanctuary, which requests that all non-ambulatory livestock be banned from slaughter. As presented, it would include fatigued pigs as non-ambulatory livestock.

“Fatigued pigs do typically recover if they are allowed to stop and rest,” notes Howard Hill, DVM, member of the National Pork Producers Council board of directors.  A 20- to 30-minute rest is all the pigs need. There is no slaughter, food safety or animal welfare issues associated with these pigs. However, if they are lumped into the mix, it would cost the pork industry $3 to $5 million annually.

There also is a foreign animal disease concern within the Farm Sanctuary’s petition. Non-ambulatory animals should be tested for foreign animal diseases to ensure that the symptoms are not associated with health concerns of a greater threat to the national herd, Hill notes. If carcasses are destroyed too quickly, then that surveillance opportunity is lost.

According to NPPC, Farm Sanctuary’s petition is based on out-dated non-compliance records and assumes that all non-ambulatory animals pose risks to human health, wants FSIS to change its inspection regulations. Currently, federal regulations prohibit beef cattle that become non-ambulatory from entering the food supply.

Pork producers attending last week’s National Pork Industry Forum each signed and submitted a letter to be sent on to FSIS in opposition of the Farm Sanctuary petition.

Additional comments  must be submitted by April 8 to FSIS. For more information about the petition and to submit comments, please go to http://nppc.org/issues/FSISRule.htm