2007 Restaurant Animal Welfare and Humane Slaughter Audits in Federally Inspected Beef and Pork Slaughter Plants in the U.S. and Canada

Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
Department of Animal Science
Colorado State University


A total of 44 beef plants 27 pork plants were audited by two different restaurant audit systems in both the U.S. and Canada. All of the cattle were stunned with captive bolt and religious slaughter was not observed. In 2007 91% of the beef plants and 92% of the pork plants had either excellent or acceptable scores on all of the numerically scored criteria on the AMI guideline (Tables 1-2). Unfortunately, two beef plants (5%) received an automatic failure rating for cutting a leg off a sensible animal and poking cows in the anus area with an electric prod. The plant that had started dressing procedures on a sensible animal was a small plant that processed less than 50 cattle per hour. They had no training program to inform their employees that there is a ZERO TOLERANCE for the practice in the AMI guidelines. The other plant where abusive electric prod use was observed was a large cow slaughter plant.

Tables 3 through 7 show the scores for each numerically scored variables of percentage of cattle stunned on the first shot, percentage insensible on the bleed rail, percentage vocalizing, percentages electric prodded, and percentage falling. Overall plants processing fed beef had better scores than cow plants. All of the fed beef plants passed the audits on vocalization and electric prod use. There was one truly outstanding, wonderful large cow plant. It was an older facility and they had worked hard on removing all the little distractions that make animals balk. The line speed was over 200 cattle per hour. Their scores were stun 100%, insensibility 100%, electric prod 1%, falling 0%, and vocalization 2%. Their line was kept completely full with Holstein Cows. To summarize the 2007 beet audits; the auditors saw the best cow plant in the last five years and the absolutely worst beef plant. The excellent performance in the old cow plant was due to good management. The shocking cutting off of the leg of a sensible animal was caused by managementís failure to train their employees. The Humane Society of the U.S. did an undercover investigation of shocking abuse of dairy cows with a forklift. The atrocious practices in this plant are a good example of the problems that occur in plants that are not part of a strict customer auditing program.

Pork Summary

Overall pork performed better than beef in 2007. Only one plant had an automatic fail rating for hanging a sensible pig on the rail (Table 2). The sensible animal was due to wrong placement of the electric stunner and it was immediately re-stunned, before bleeding. The employees handled the situation correctly. Tables 8 through 13 contain the scores for stunning, electric prod use, vocalization and falling. All seven plants that had the group CO2 stunning units passed on all of the numerically scored criteria. Both the CO2 plants and the electric stunning plants passed the audit on electric prod use. Vocalization data in the restrainer was collected in 15 electric stunning plants on market pigs. All 15 plants had 5% or less of the pigs vocalizing in the restrainer. Some managers were concerned that their score would not be attainable, but all 15 were able to do it with market pigs. None of the plants had a pig fall in the stunning area, but one pig did fall on the truck unloading dock (Table 11).

The restaurant auditing system is now in its 8th year and it is a mature program. The extremely bad treatment of animals observed in two beef plants show that vigilance must never be relaxed.

Table 1: Percentage of beef plants that passed or failed restaurant audits out of 44 U.S. and Canadian plants
Plant Performance Rating Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
Pass on all of the numerically scored criteria and no acts of abuse 40 91%
Non-conformance by 5 points or less on one scored core criteria 1 2%
Non-conformance by 5 points or less on two scored core criteria 1 2%
Automatic Failed Audit. One or more scores in the serious problem category or, act of abuse, or hanging a sensible animal on the rail 1 5%

Table 2: Percentage of pork plants that passed or failed audits out of 27 Canadian plants
Plant Performance Rating Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
Pass on all of the numerically scored criteria and no acts of abuse 25 92%
Non-conformance by 5 points or less on one numerically scored core criteria 1 4%
Non-conformance by 5 points or less on two numerically scored criteria 0 0%
Automatic Failed Audit. One or more scores in the serious problem category or, act of abuse, or hanging a sensible animal on the rail 1 4%

Table 3: Captive Bolt Stunning in 44 U.S. Beef Plants
% of Cattle Stunned With One Shot Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
99% to 100%: Excellent 28 64%
99% to 98%: Acceptable 15 34%
90% to 94%: Not Acceptable 1* 2%
Less than 90%: Serious Problem 0 0%

* The worst plant had a stunning score of 91% due to a group of excited wild cattle. All 21 beef plants with a line speed of over 150 cattle per hour passed BOTH the stunning and insensibility audits.

Table 4: Insensibility in 44 U.S. Beef Plants in 2007
Percentage of Cattle Rendered Insensible Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
Excellent: 100% 43 98%
Fail: Less than 100% insensible 1* 2%

* The small plant with a line speed of less than 50 per hour had very poorly trained employees. They had a sensible beef animal on the rail and failed to restun it before cutting of the front leg. This was an automatic audit failure.

Table 5: Percentage of cattle vocalizing during handling and stunning in 44 beef plants
Percentage Vocalizing Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0 to 1%: Excellent 31 70%
2% to 3%: Acceptable 11 25%
4% to 5%: Borderline Acceptable 0 0%
6% to 10%: Not Acceptable 2* 5%
Over 10%: Serious Problem 0 0%

*Two cow slaughter plants had vocalization scores of 8% and 7%. At one cow plant, vocalization was caused by electric prods and at the other, vocalization occurred when a head restraint was applied to hold the head for stunning.

Table 6: Percentage of cattle moved with electric prods in 44 beef plants
Percentage Electric Prodded Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0%: Excellent 14 32%
5% or Less: Acceptable 13 30%
6% to 25%: Acceptable 16 36%
26% to 50%: Not Acceptable 1* 2%
Over 50%: Serious Problem 0 0%

*A cow slaughter plant had a 44% electric prod score and an automatic audit failure when a plant employee poked two cows in the anal area with an electric prod.

Table 7: Percentage of cattle falling during handling in 44 beef plants
Percentage Falling Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0%: Excellent 37 84%
1%: Acceptable 6 14%
2% to 4%: Not Acceptable 1* 2%
5% or more: Serious Problem 0 0%

*This plant had a 2% falling score and no reason was given.

Table 8: Stunning percentage and insensibility in seven plants with CO2 stunning
Percentage stunned correctly and rendered insensible on the bleed rail Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
Excellent: 100% stunned / 100% insensible 7* 100%

*All seven plants had two large Butina CO2 stunning systems where the pigs are moved into the chamber in groups. The single file race is eliminated. Each CO2 chamber handled 650 pigs per hour or less and had plenty of capacity.

Table 9: Percentage of pigs moved with an electric prod in seven plants with Butina group CO2 stunning systems
Percentage Electric Prodded Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0%: Excellent 5 72%
5% or Less: Acceptable 1 14%
6% to 25%: Acceptable 1* 14%
26% to 50%: Not Acceptable 0 0%
Over 50%: Serious Problem 0 0%

*An untrained employee tapped 19% of the pigs on the back with the electric prod.

Table 10: Percentage of pigs with correct electric stunner placement and no hot wanding in 20 pork plants in the U.S. and Canada
Percentage Electric Prodded Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
Excellent: 100% Correct 13 65%
99% Correct: Acceptable 6 30%
98% to 96%: Not Acceptable 1* 5%
Less than 96%: Serious Problem 0 0%
*This plant had a sensible pig on the rail. It was handled correctly by the plant and re-stunned before dressing procedures were started.

Table 11: Percentage of pigs moved with an electric prod in 20 plants that had electrical stunning
Percentage Electric Prodded Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0%: Excellent 3* 15%
5% or Less: Acceptable 8 40%
6% to 25%: Acceptable 9 45%
26% to 50%: Not Acceptable 0 0%
Over 50%: Serious Problem 0 0%

*One of these plants was running more than 1000 pigs per hour on a single restrainer and they probably slowed the line down to obtain a 0% score. Most other plants ran 850 per hour or less on a single restrainer and were capable of getting a passing score at their normal line speed.

Table 12: Percentage of electrically stunned pigs that vocalized (squealed) while they were held in the restrainer for stunning in 15 market pig plants.*
Percentage of Pigs Vocalizing Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0%: Excellent 2 13%
2% or Less: Excellent 7 47%
5% or less: Acceptable 6 40%
6% to 9%: Not Acceptable 0 0%
10% or more: Serious Problem 0 0%

*Five plants that used electric stunning were not included because vocalization was not scored with the 2007 version of the AMI guideline.

Table 13: Percentage of pigs falling during handling in 20 pork plants
Percentage Falling Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0%: Excellent 14 70%
1%: Acceptable 5 25%
2 to 4%: Not Acceptable 1* 5%
5% or more: Serious Problem 0 0%

*Animal slipped and fell on the truck unloading dock.


Click here to return to the Homepage for more information on animal behavior, welfare, and care.

Click here to return to Survey main menu to view surveys done during other years