On Monday, the American Meat Institute (AMI) announced the release of the 2007 Animal Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide. These internationally recognized guidelines are an updated version of the 2005 guidelines and have been revised based upon feedback from the field.

Audit points in the guidelines include measurement of: 

  • Frequency of slips and falls by livestock.
  • Frequency of vocalizations.
  • Frequency of electric prod use.
  • Stunner accuracy.
  • How effectively livestock are made insensible during processing.  

The audit also calls for the monitoring of any willful acts of abuse (which is an immediate audit failure) and the provision of water at all times. Major changes include the addition of a new audit point for monitoring slips and falls at unloading and a new approach to vocalization scoring of pigs. 

The audit guide was first created in 1996. AMI released the first animal welfare audit document in 1997. Since that time, the guidelines have been updated twice.

By 1999, major quick service restaurant customers were requiring the use of this audit as a requirement for doing business. 

Temple Grandin, Colorado State University animal welfare specialist argued that you manage what you measure. The act of counting and measuring with regularity ensures that when a deviation occurs, a plant can explore and rectify the cause, AMI President J. Patrick Boyle says. “We have seen dramatic improvements in our animal handling as a result of this innovative initiative a decade ago.” 

Grandin’s data documenting improvements are found at: www.grandin.com.

In 2002, AMI’s Board of Directors voted to make animal welfare a non-competitive issue, which has inspired further cooperation among members to help each other continuously improve.

“No other sector of animal agriculture is as heavily regulated and inspected for animal welfare practices as the meat packing industry. Federal inspectors oversee our packing operations continuously and can take actions — including closing a plant — for failure to comply with federal rules,” Boyle said. “However, our goal has been to not just meet, but to exceed federal rules. We have a documented history of doing just that and we are very proud of our proactive record.”

All of AMI’s materials and guidelines may be found at: www.animalhandling.org.     

Source: Animal Meat Institute