HSUS Petition to End Slaughter of Downer Veal Calves Approved

The animal rights group says USDA has granted its 2009 petition, but no timeline for implementation was given

Published on: Mar 20, 2013

The Humane Society of the United States announced Tuesday its petition filed with the USDA to ban slaughter of "downer" veal calves has been granted.

The petition was first offered in 2009, asking the agency to "close a loophole in federal regulations that allows downer calves to be kept alive indefinitely." HSUS says USDA regulations, which currently call for euthanasia of adult downer cattle, does not offer the same provision for veal calves.

HSUS says the practice of slaughtering, instead of euthanizing downer claves incentivizes other abuses at slaughter facilities, and could raise food safety concerns.

"Because non-ambulatory animals spend more time lying down, they are often forced to lie in excrement, which can lead to contamination of meat with fecal matter during the slaughtering process," HSUS said in its petition to the USDA.

HSUS says USDA has granted its 2009 petition, but no timeline for implementation was given
HSUS says USDA has granted its 2009 petition, but no timeline for implementation was given

In a statement to the HSUS regarding its petition, USDA said it "agrees that the provision that allows veal calves to be set aside to be warmed or rested may create an incentive for establishments to inhumanely force non-ambulatory veal calves to rise and for veal calf producers to send weakened calves to slaughter," the HSUS reports.

Though HSUS says USDA has confirmed it will support the group's petition, it has not said when it will issue a proposed rule to implement the decision.

"We are pleased the USDA is finally moving to address the serious animal welfare and food safety concerns associated with the slaughter of downer calves," said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal protection litigation and investigations at The HSUS. "We urge the agency to move forward on this issue to protect young calves from inhumane handling and slaughter, and revise its regulations without further delay."

According to the USDA, Americans consumed about .3 lbs. of veal per person yearly. The last year veal consumption was above one pound per person was in 1988.