USDA: Downer cows must be euthanized, can’t be slaughtered

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WASHINGTON — The USDA released a final rule March 14 to amend federal meat inspection regulations to require a complete ban on the slaughter of cattle that become nonambulatory after passing initial inspection.

The final rule would require all cattle that are nonambulatory disabled (“downer”) cattle at any time prior to slaughter at an official establishment, including those that become non-ambulatory disabled after passing ante-mortem inspection, be condemned and properly disposed of according to Food Safety and Inspection Service regulations. Previously, decisions were made on a case-by-case basis.

Plants must notify inspectors when cattle become nonambulatory after passing the pre-slaughter inspection.

Inspectors will tag these cattle as “U.S. Condemned” and these cattle must be humanely euthanized.

(Download a .pdf of the Final Rule.)

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