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Humane Slaughter Information

While comparing required treatment of animals during slaughter to the present status of humane slaughter practices and regulations in the U.S., our Director conducted these investigations:

Humane slaughter and electrical stunning before slaughter – our chat with Dr. Temple Grandin

Discussion with leading expert Dr. Joe Regenstein of Cornell University, on application of the Noahide Code to the various methods of livestock slaughter in the meat industry

This organization can help you stay updated about meat suppliers in regard to issues of animal welfare in the United States:
North American Meat Institute

Livestock and Poultry:

Animal Welfare:

For more information on U.S. government regulations related to humane slaughter of livestock, also see the following websites:


Chapter 48 – Humane Methods Of Livestock Slaughter

U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 9, Part 313:




’96 Survey – Stunning to Bleed Interval, Bleed Rail Insensibility, and Determining Insensibility:

Please refer to the “National Humane Slaughter Audit Report”

News item appearing in

The Washington Post, Thursday, June 14, 2001; Page A18

USDA, Activists Clash On Slaughter Rules

The Agriculture Department clashed with unionized meat inspectors and animal welfare advocates over allegations that it allows packers to slaughter cattle and hogs while the animals are still conscious.

The inspectors’ union joined the Humane Farming Association and six other groups in a petition urging the agency to strictly enforce federal humane-slaughter regulations. The groups say the law is ignored “with virtual impunity” because of lax enforcement. The move follows the introduction of legislation by Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) also calling for more stringent oversight.

Meat industry and agency officials defended current enforcement efforts. “We take any violations very seriously,” said Linda Swacina of the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.


“Solving return-to-sensibility problems after electrical stunning in commercial pork slaughter plants,” by Dr. Temple Grandin

Recommended practice (source: Dr. Temple Grandin)“Checking for signs of return to sensibility after bleeding insures that the animal will not recover.”

Cardiac Arrest Stunning of Livestock and Poultry


A stunning method that will reliably render an animal insensible to pain and sensation prior to hoisting and bleeding is essential to prevent suffering. Cardiac arrest stunning is more effective than conventional electric stunning. In cardiac arrest stunning, an electric current is passed through both the brain and the heart to produce permanent insensibility. Since the animal is killed by the electricity it cannot revive during hoisting, bleeding, or slaughtering procedures. In contrast, conventional electrical stunning induces reversible insensibility for a short period of time.

The advantages of cardiac arrest stunning are outlined below. If the interval between removal of the electric stunner and bleeding (throat cutting) is too long or if the throat is cut incorrectly, an animal may enter the scalding tank or have a limb or skin removed while still conscious. Cardiac arrest stunning practically eliminates this possibility compared to conventional electric stunning. Another advantage of cardiac arrest stunning is if the animal accidentally misses the bleeding station, stopping the heart will probably induce unconsciousness prior to the animal’s being transported to the scalding tank or the first leg removal or skinning station.

Electrical Stunning – Trouble Shooting Guide (source: AMI website, ’03)

Problem – The initial stun appears to be done correctly but the animal blinks or shows other signs of return to sensibility 30 to 90 seconds after stunning.

Causes [partial list]:

·The stunning to bleed interval is too long. This is especially a problem with head only reversible stunning. The solution is to shorten the interval between stunning and bleeding.

· Poor bleeding if an animal shows signs of return to sensibility after it has been bled. This can occur in cardiac arrested animals because there are always a few animals where the heart is not stopped. Training of the person doing the bleeding will usually solve this problem.

CO2 Stunning – Trouble Shooting Guide (source: AMI website, ’03)

[Partial list of reasons for return to sensibility.]:

·The time between exit from the CO2 chamber and bleeding is too long. To prevent recovery from the anesthesia, bleed the animals more quickly.

·Poor bleeding technique. If animals show signs of return to sensibility after bleeding the person doing the bleeding may need more training.