New Rule Allowing Cruel High-Speed Pig Slaughter Violates Federal Law


In mid-September, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a final rule allowing pig slaughterhouses nationwide to police themselves and kill pigs at very high line speeds. The Animal Legal Defense Fund opposes the euphemistically named “Modernization of Pork Slaughter” rule.

High-speed pig slaughter increases pigs’ suffering, threatens consumer and worker safety, and poses serious environmental risks. The USDA violated federal law in finalizing this rule, acting contrary to the mountain of evidence before it demonstrating the rule’s dangers, and flouting humane slaughter and meat inspection laws. The USDA also failed to conduct any environmental review for an action that is sure to increase pig raising and slaughtering nationwide, further amplifying the already significant pollution caused by pig slaughterhouses.

A slaughterhouse worker prods pigs through chutes at a slaughterhouse. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals.

The Modernization of Pork Slaughter rule expands a problematic pilot program that allowed five of the country’s largest pig slaughterhouses to radically increase the speed at which pigs are slaughtered, while at the same time decreasing government oversight of food safety by putting critical animal inspection and food safety tasks in the hands of slaughterhouse workers who are already subject to relentless pressure to keep the slaughter line moving. The swine Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) program started in 1997 and, since its inception, has been widely criticized by watchdog groups, former USDA food safety inspectors, and even the USDA’s own Office of Inspector General. While the largest meat companies stand to profit from this privatized, speeded-up pig slaughter, animals, consumers, and slaughterhouse workers will pay a steep price.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund submitted comments to the USDA urging the agency not to go forward with the high-speed pig slaughter rule. We are assessing our legal options regarding the agency’s decision to finalize this dangerous and inhumane rule.

Featured image: spray-painted pigs crowded outside a slaughterhouse in Canada. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals.

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The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. The Animal Legal Defense Fund accomplishes this mission by filing high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm, providing free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes, supporting tough animal protection legislation and fighting legislation harmful to animals, and providing resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. Click to see author's profile.

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