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Encyclopedia > Humane Slaughter Act

The Humane Slaughter Act, or the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act, is a United States federal law designed to protect food animals during the moment of their slaughter. It was passed in 1958. The United States Code (U.S.C.) is a compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal Law of the United States. ... Year 1958 (MCMLVIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Cow restrained for stunning just prior to slaughter.
Cow restrained for stunning just prior to slaughter.


Cattle restrained for slaughter just prior to stunning. ... Cattle restrained for slaughter just prior to stunning. ...

Content of the Humane Slaughter Act

According to the law, animals should be stunned into unconsciousness prior to their slaughter to ensure a quick, relatively painless death. The most common methods are electrocution or a metal bolt to the head. Frequent on-site monitoring is necessary, as is the employment of skilled and well-trained personnel. An animal is considered properly stunned when there is no "righting reflex"; that is, the animal must not try to stand up and right itself. Only then can it be considered fully unconscious. It can then proceed down the line, where slaughterhouse workers commence in cutting up its body.

The act contains a broad exemption for all animals slaughtered in accordance with religious law. This generally applies to animals killed for the kosher meat market. Strict interpretation of kashrut generally requires that the animal be fully sensible when its carotid artery is cut. The circled U indicates that this can of tuna is certified kosher by the Union of Orthodox Congregations. ... Look up kosher in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In human anatomy, the carotid artery is a major artery of the head and neck. ...

History of the Humane Slaughter Act


The first version of the HMSLA was passed in 1958. Public demand for the act was so great that when asked at a press conference whether he would sign it, President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated, "If I went by mail, I’d think no one was interested in anything but humane slaughter." Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, author of the first humane slaughter bill introduced in the US Congress and chief Senate sponsor of the Federal Humane Slaughter Act, passed in 1958. Year 1958 (MCMLVIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Dwight David Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American General and politician, who served as the thirty-fourth President of the United States (1953–1961). ...


In 1978, the HMSLA was updated and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors were given the authority to stop the slaughtering line when cruelty was observed. Officially, slaughtering was not to continue until said cruelty, whether as a result of equipment or of abuses by personnel, was corrected. However, the USDA eventually stopped authorizing USDA inspectors to stop the line, since doing so incurs considerable cost of time for the industry. Year 1978 (MCMLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays the 1978 Gregorian calendar). ... “USDA” redirects here. ...


Improvements were made on May 13, 2002, when President George W. Bush signed the Farm Bill (Public Law 107-171) into law. It includes a Resolution confirming that the HMSLA should be fully enforced. is the 133rd day of the year (134th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Also see: 2002 (number). ... George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States, inaugurated on January 20, 2001. ...

When introducing the Resolution on the Senate floor, Senator Peter Fitzgerald said: Peter G. Fitzgerald (born October 20, 1960) was the junior United States Senator from Illinois from 1999 until 2005. ...

On April 10, 2001, the Washington Post printed a front page story entitled "They Die Piece by Piece." This graphic article asserted that the United States Department of Agriculture was not appropriately enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act. In response, I am introducing this resolution that encourages the Secretary of Agriculture to fully enforce current law including the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958, as amended by the Federal Meat Inspection Act in 1978. is the 100th day of the year (101st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 2001 Gregorian calendar). ... ... The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 is a United States federal law that authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to order meat inspections and condemn any meat product found unfit for human consumption. ...

The Humane Slaughter Act simply requires that animals be rendered insensible to pain before they are harvested. However, apparently this law is not being enforced in some instances. For example, the Washington Post article reported that "enforcement records, interviews, videos and worker affidavits describe repeated violations of the Humane Slaughter Act" and "the government took no action against a Texas beef company that was cited 22 times in 1998 for violations that include chopping hooves off live cattle". Official language(s) No official language See languages of Texas Capital Austin Largest city Houston Largest metro area Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex Area  Ranked 2nd  - Total 261,797 sq mi (678,051 km²)  - Width 773 miles (1,244 km)  - Length 790 miles (1,270 km)  - % water 2. ... Year 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar). ...

Criticism of the HMSLA

Exclusionary policies

The HMSLA is generally unpopular amongst animal rights advocates and the Humane Society of the United States, who criticize its exclusionary policies--it covers cattle, pigs, and sheep but not poultry or fish or rabbits. For the album by Moby, see Animal Rights (album). ... HSUS logo The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is a Washington, D.C-based animal welfare advocacy group. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Fish (disambiguation). ... Genera Pentalagus Bunolagus Nesolagus Romerolagus Brachylagus Sylvilagus Oryctolagus Poelagus Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. ...

Failure to enforce

Additional criticism exists in the USDA's failure to enforce the HMSLA effectively. Arthur Hughes, president of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, has stated that, “We are the people who are charged by Congress with enforcing [the HMLSA], but most of our inspectors have little to no access to those areas of the plants where animals are being handled and slaughtered."


Undercover videos have shown that the pigs and cows whom the act is supposed to protect are often kicked and beaten at slaughter. Frequently unsuccessful attempts at slaughter often result in the animals being conscious while their bodies are cut apart.[citation needed]

Slaughterhouse workers

Animal and human rights activists are concerned with the treatment of slaughterhouse workers, who are very often abused, overworked, and underqualified for their duties. Generally uneducated and without competent English skills, they are desperate for work. Some employees report that they are threatened with the loss of their jobs should they attempt to complain about the factory. They are expected to slaughter one animal every three seconds--and are penalized when they slow down. This translates to frustration and anger on the part of the workers, and further abuse for the animals they slaughter.[citation needed] Human rights are rights which some hold to be inalienable and belonging to all humans. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...


The HMSLA is also criticized because, despite being the only U.S. law designed to protect livestock, it only focuses on the last few minutes of animals' lives and has no effect on how they are treated beforehand, even as they are going to slaughter.

An anonymous slaughterhouse worker (as documented by the Humane Farming Association) stated, "[If a cow is unable to walk] they put a big long chain around her neck then drag her all the way up to where we are. Usually she's dead by then. Strangled. Sometimes a steer would get its head stuck in the restrainer. You couldn't stun it at that point so you'd end up cutting its head off while the beef was still alive."

See also

For the album by Moby, see Animal Rights (album). ... The factual accuracy of part of this article is disputed. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Maine Humane Slaughter Act (515 words)
The Maine humane slaughter provisions begin with a statement of policy that a method of slaughtering or handling in connection with slaughtering does not comply with the public policy of the State unless it is humane.
Slaughtering and handling in accordance with the ritual requirements of a religious faith that prescribes a method of slaughter whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.
For the purpose of preventing the inhumane slaughtering of livestock, the commissioner shall appoint inspectors to examine and inspect the method by which livestock are slaughtered and handled in connection with slaughter in the licensed or official slaughtering establishments inspected under this chapter.
Humane Slaughter Act (603 words)
Included in these sections are Congress' statement that livestock must be slaughtered in a humane manner to prevent needless suffering, research methods on humane methods of slaughter, the nonapplicability of these statutes to religious or ritual slaughter, and the investigation into the care of nonambulatory livestock.
No method of slaughtering or handling in connection with slaughtering shall be deemed to comply with the public policy of the United States unless it is humane.
For the purposes of this section the term "ritual slaughter" means slaughter in accordance with section 1902(b) of this title.
  More results at FactBites »



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