What’s the Background?
Concern over “downed” animals entering the food supply has been an issue since the first case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or “mad cow” disease, was discovered in a cow in the United States in December 2003. The U.S. Department of Agriculture subsequently banned “downed” cattle from entering the food system, but there is no food-safety risk from allowing fatigued, lame, or injured hogs (without neurological problems) into the system. Scientific evidence has not shown that hogs are susceptible to BSE. Despite that fact, some legislators and activist groups want to ban non-ambulatory hogs from being processed for human consumption. According to government data, between 0.8 and 1 percent of market hogs (800,000 to 1 million) become non-ambulatory from fatigue or injury during transport or shortly after unloading at the packing plant.
Why Does It Matter to Our Producers?
Banning fatigued or non-ambulatory hogs from the food supply would be detrimental to the U.S. pork industry, creating disposal and animal protein supply problems and costing producers millions of dollars.
What is NPPC’s position?
NPPC opposes banning from the food supply hogs that become fatigued or non-ambulatory, a condition that results from an acid-base imbalance and is self-reversing after animals are allowed to rest. Additionally, USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) monitors animal handling and slaughtering practices at packing plants, including the treatment of downed or fatigued animals. All non-ambulatory or fatigued hogs are inspected by FSIS inspectors and veterinarians for their fitness for processing and entering the human food supply; no animals deemed unfit enter the food supply. Strong regulatory safeguards for humane treatment in the processing of animals already exist, and the pork industry has developed the Transportation Quality Assurance Program to train people in properly transporting and handling hogs.