Animal Science, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Translational Animal Science, 2022, 7, 1–10 Advance access publication 1 December 2022


Open access.


Federally inspected slaughter establishments in the United States must adhere to the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and regulations that enforce it. Failure to comply with this law results in a Humane Handling Enforcement Action (HHEA) issued by the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA FSIS). The objective of this study was to systematically analyze and describe HHEAs issued between 2018 and 2020. Enforcement action notification letters were accessed from the USDA FSIS website and date, location, regulatory action, reason for noncompliance, species, and follow up action for each HHEA was recorded. Summary statistics (proportions and percentages) were calculated for the entire population dataset. Between 2018 and 2020, FSIS issued 293 HHEAs; 109 in 2018, 85 in 2019, and 99 in 2020. The majority of HHEAs (64.16%; 188 of 293) were related to the mechanical stunning of bovine (39.93%; 117 of 293) and porcine (24.23%; 71 of 293) species. The majority (50.23%; 107 of 213) of causative reasons for mechanical stun failure across all species were not clearly described; however, of those that were, most (39.12%; 68 of 213) were related to the placement of mechanical stuns. Addressing these issues through improved training and research would help to reduce the total number of HHEAs. Additional detail in reporting the events that result in HHEAs from USDA FSIS would aid in guiding corrective actions on an industry-wide scale.