The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) made revisions to Directive 6130.1, the "Ante-mortem, Postmortem Inspection of Equines and Documentation of Inspection Tasks", which was originally released on June 28, 2013.
The Directive provides instructions to inspection program personnel (IPP) on how to perform ante-mortem inspection of equines before slaughter and post-mortem inspection of equine carcasses and parts after slaughter.
It also instructs Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Public Health Veterinarians (PHVs) making ante-mortem and post-mortem dispositions of equines how to perform residue testing, verify humane handling, verify marking of inspected equine products, and document results using the Public Health Inspection System (PHIS).
On December 18, 2013, FSIS reissued Directive 6130.1 Revision 1, to include minor changes to the instructions to IPP how to record equine in the PHIS plant profile. FSIS is also making other changes to reflect the implementation of Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)-Direct and to clarify instructions concerning increased sampling for “repeat violators.”
A. The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) provides that there is to be an inspection of horses and other equines, among other species, to assess whether the carcasses of these animals are not adulterated, can be passed for human consumption, and are eligible to bear the mark of inspection (21 U.S.C. 604).
B. The FMIA requires that the slaughter or preparation of products of equines be conducted under inspection. FSIS regulations require that horse slaughter and preparation of products of equines be done in establishments that are separate from any establishment in which cattle, sheep, swine, or goats are slaughtered or their products prepared (9 CFR 305.2 (b)).
C. The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1978 and 9 CFR Part 313 require that all livestock, including horses, slaughtered under inspection be handled humanely. Equines must be rendered insensible to pain (i.e. unconscious) before being shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast, or cut.
In response to the emergency motion filed on September 19, 2013, Federal Judge Christina Armijo has suspended Horse Slaughter operations at Rains Natural Meats until October 4, 2013.
Judge Armijo furthered ordered that this matter be referred to the Honorable Robert H.Scott for an evidentiary hearing to determine if her order should be extended beyond October 4th.
Judge Scott will also be ruling on the request from Rains Natural Meats to be included on the bond, which he granted to Valley Meats and Responsible Transportation on August 8, 2013. Our attorneys continue to contest this bond, as this case is against the federal government (USDA) and its permitting process, not the companies that were recently given permission to begin slaughtering horses.
A third business has met all the statutory and regulatory requirements to require USDA to provide inspection services when it begins processing horsemeat for human consumption.
Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys representing USDA have informed the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico that it may want to expand its temporary restraining order against horse slaughter to include Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, MO.
That restraining order currently only prevents USDA from providing inspection services to Valley Meat in New Mexico and Responsible Transportation in Iowa, the first two businesses to qualify since a five-year ban on spending federal money on horse slaughter inspections ended in 2012. “When this court entered its temporary restraining order, Rains Natural Meats had not yet met the requirements for a grant of inspection, and thus the temporary restraining order expressly applies only to FSIS’s (Food Safety and Inspection Service’s) inspection of the Valley Meat and Responsible Transportation facilities,” the DOJ attorneys wrote, adding, “But circumstances have changed, and Rains Natural Meats is now eligible and requesting a grant of inspection.”
The government attorneys said that, while they were not waiving any of their earlier objections to federal Judge M. Christina Armijo’s order, they understood that she may want to amend it in light of the new reality.
Rains Natural Meats is a small meat and poultry slaughter and processing facility with about 5,300 square feet. Built in 1998, it has been a USDA-inspected facility for various meat and poultry processing since it was built, but the business has had difficulties due to the slow economic recovery.
Owner David Rains opted to file for an equine grant of inspection on Jan. 13. While waiting for the application to be approved, he told local media outlets that he’s been driving a school bus to pay his bills.
In its “Decision Memo,” USDA said the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) requires government inspectors to conduct ante-mortem inspection of all amenable species, including cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, mules and other equines, including a post-mortem inspection of “carcasses and parts of all amenable species.”
“Horses, mules, and other equines have been among the livestock species that are amenable to the FMIA since it was amended by the Wholesome Meat Act in 1967,” wrote Philip S. Derfler, FSIS deputy administrator.
FSIS is required to conduct an examination and inspection of the methods of slaughter to ensure they are in compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which calls for prevention of needless livestock suffering.
In the USDA memo, Derfler says the decision to provide inspection services under the FMIA “is purely ministerial because if a commercial horse slaughter plant meets all of the statutory and regulatory requirement for receiving a grant of federal inspection, FSIS has no discretion or authority under the FMIA to deny the grant on other grounds or to consider and choose among alternative ways to achieve the agency’s statutory objectives.”
“Therefore, a grant of federal inspection services under the FMIA is not a major federal action that is subject to NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) requirements,” he added.
Horse rescue and animal-welfare groups have sued in federal court in New Mexico, charging that NEPA requires USDA to conduct environmental reviews before granting inspection services for horse slaughter. Judge Armijo granted a temporary restraining order just ahead of the start dates for Valley Meat and Responsible Transportation.
In a separate proceeding, a federal magistrate has ruled that a plaintiff’s bond of almost $500,000 per month might be required to cover potential losses by the defendants while the case is argued. The bond is intended to compensate the defendants if the plaintiffs lose.
Government attorneys then suggested the case be accelerated and the plaintiffs agreed. Both sides are now preparing briefs that should frame the issues for the judge to decide by about Oct. 10. After she rules, the losing side will likely appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
About 175,000 horses from the United States are exported for slaughter each year to Canada and Mexico. New USDA-inspected horse-slaughter facilities in the U.S. would export horsemeat for human consumption to areas of the world where
there is a demand, mainly Europe and Asia.
Source: Food Safety News by Dan Flynn
>>> Click Here to View the Department of Justice's Legal Notice regarding grant of inspection for Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, Missouri.