2010 Restaurant Animal Welfare and Humane Slaughter Audits in U.S. Federally Inspected Beef and Pork Slaughter Plants

Temple Grandin
Department of Animal Sciences
Colorado State University

Updated June 2011 with additional data and corrections


Thirty-two federally inspected beef plants and 25 pork plants were audited by third party auditing firms by two major restaurant companies. In 2010, all the plants rendered 100% of the animals insensible and passed the stunning audit. No willful acts of abuse were observed. Compared to 2009, this is a definite improvement.

Beef Summary

The data is summarized on Tables 1 through 6. Thirty out of 32 beef plants passed on all the numerically scored criteria. One plant had 2% of the cattle falling, which is not acceptable. To pass, the falling score must be 1% or less. In a second plant, the vocalization score was 5%. One kosher plant that restrained cattle in an upright restrainer had an acceptable 2% vocalization score. Overall equipment maintenance was good with the exception of one plant that had a trailer that needed maintenance. A common question that arises during audits is how to score plants that routinely shoot cattle twice with the captive bolt. Auditors and inspectors should examine the animal and determine whether or not it is insensible before the second shot. The plant has to be able to demonstrate that95% of the cattle can be effectively stunned with a single shot. In 26 (81%) of the beef plants, electric prods were used on 0 to 5% of the cattle. The worst plant was 16%. Data from 2009 and 2010 was combined to determine if there was a difference in vocalization scores between beef plants that used a center track conveyor restrainer and plants that used stunning boxes. There were 20 plants with restrainers and 14 with stun boxes. There was no difference between the two systems. The average percentage of cattle vocalizing was 1.1% in the restrainer and 1.2% in the boxes. The worst score in both systems was 4%. There were four plants with the center track restrainer that specialize in harvesting cull cows. The vocalization scores in these four plants were 1%, 2%, 0%, and 0%.

Pork Summary

The data is summarized on Tables 7 through 12. Twenty-one out of 22 plants passed on all of the numerically scored criteria. In one plant, 2% of the pigs fell down. At another plant, a very bad, difficult to handle group of pigs had 7.92% pigs vocalizing. A second group of pigs in the same plant had 0% vocalizing. The average score for the two groups was 3.96% so the plant received a passing score. To have quiet handling, it is essential to bring pigs to the plant that are easy to handle. Plant management needs to document groups of pigs that are difficult to handle and work with producers to correct problems. In 2009 all the plants that used CO2 stunning systems with group handling had 0% electric prod use. In 2010, three plants out of 14CO2 plants used electric prods even though they had the system where pigs are handled in groups. In one of these CO2 plants, an electric prod was used on 12% of the pigs. This problem is most likely due to excitable pigs. The main causes of hard to handle pigs are genetics, failure of the producers to walk the pens or excessive use of ractopamine (Paylean). Some people have questioned whether or not a sow slaughter plant can attain the same performance as the plants that harvest market weight pigs. One sow plant was included in the data. They passed on all scores. These scores were electric stunner placement 99%, falling 0%, insensibility 100%, vocalization 1%, and electric prod score 7%. This plant had a single file chute (row) and electric stunning. The two worst pork plants for electric prod use were 21% and 23%. Both of these had single file chutes (races).

Video Auditing

In 2010 many more companies have installed video auditing which is monitored by third party auditing companies over the internet. Two major corporations with multiple plants have installed it, and many of the independent plants are also implementing it. When the systems were first installed, some interesting observations were made. Stunning performance on the video and auditing done by a person with a clipboard was the same. Unfortunately, the amount of electric prod use doubled when the employees did not know that the cameras were functioning. To motivate employees in a positive manner, one of the companies has started contests between their different plants with pizza parties and other prizes. One thing learned from the initiation of video auditing on a large scale is that some people should not be handling livestock. In 2010, several employees had to be removed. There are also some employees who do an excellent job and they are very proud of their good scores and performance. I am a strong proponent of video auditing. For it to be effective, it must be monitored by third party auditors over the internet.


2010 Beef Plant Audit Results


Table 1: Audit Results
Total Audit Score Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
Pass on all Numerically Scored criteria 30 94%
Non-conformance by 5 points or less on one scored criteria Requires re-audit and a corrective action letter 2 6%
Non- conformance by 5 points or more on one or more criteria automatic failed audit 0 0%

*In one plant, 5% of the cattle vocalized and the other 2% of the cattle fell down.

Table 2: Captive Bolt Stunning Accuracy in 30 U.S. beef plants
Percentage of Cattle Stunned with One Shot Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
100 % to 99% Excellent 23 77%
95% to 98% : Acceptable 7 23%
90% to 94% : Not Acceptable 0 0%
Less than 90% : Serious Problem 0 0%

*2 plants not given a stunning score because one was kosher and data not collected in the other plant.

Table 3: Insensibility in 32 Beef Plants
Percentage of Cattle Rendered Insensible Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
100 % : Excellent 32 100%
Less than 100% : Serious Problem 0 0%

Table 4: Percentage of Cattle Vocalizing During Handling and Stunning in 32 U.S. Beef Plants
Percentage of Cattle Vocalizing Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0% to 1% : Excellent 13 41%
2% to 3 % : Acceptable 18 56%
4% to 10% : Not Acceptable 1 3%
Greater than 10% : Serious Problem 0 0%

*In one plant 5% of the cattle vocalized.

Table 5: Percentage of Cattle Moved with Electric Prods During Handling in 32 U.S. Beef Plants
Percentage of Cattle Electric Prodded Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0% : Excellent 7 22%
5% or less : Very Good 19 59%
6% to 25% : Acceptable* 6 19%
26% to 50% : Not Acceptable 0 0%
Greater than 50% : Serious Problem 0 0%
*The worst score was 16% of the cattle moved with an electric prod.

Table 6: Percentage of Cattle Falling During Handling in 32 U.S. Beef Plants
Percentage of Cattle Falling During Handling Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0% : Excellent 30 94%
1% : Acceptable 1 3%
2% to 4% : Not Acceptable 1 3%
Greater than 5% : Serious Problem 0 0%


2010 Audit Results for 22 Pork Plants


Table 7: Audit Results
Total Audit Score Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
Pass on all Numerically Scored criteria 22 95%
Non-conformance by 5 points or less on one scored criteria. Requires Re-Audit and a corrective action letter. 1* 5%
Non- conformance by 5 points or more on one or more criteria. Failed Audit 0 0%
*In one plant, 2% of the pigs fell down.

Table 8: Electric Stunner Placement Accuracy in 8 U.S. Pork Plants
Percentage of Pigs Stunned with One Shot Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
100 % : Excellent 4 50%
99% : Acceptable 4 50%
98% : Not Acceptable 0 0%
Less than 90% : Serious Problem 0 0%

Table 9: Insensibility in 22 Pork Plants Both CO2 and Electric Stunning
Percentage of Pigs Rendered Insensible Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
100 % : Excellent 22 100%
Less than 100% : Serious Problem 0 0%

Table 10: Percentage of Pigs Vocalizing During Handling and Stunning in 10 U.S. Pork Plants That Use CO2 or Electric Stunning
Percentage of Pigs Vocalizing Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0% to 1% : Excellent 3 30%
2% to 5% : Acceptable 6 60%
6% to 10% : Not Acceptable 1 10%
Greater than 10% : Serious Problem 0 0%
*Data was used from the audit system that scored individual pigs. The other audit system used a different scoring system so the data cannot be combined.

Table 11: Percentage of Pigs Moved with Electric Prods During Handling in 22 U.S. Pork Plants That Use CO2 or Electric Stunning
Percentage of Pigs Electric Prodded Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0% : Excellent 11 50%
5% or less : Very Good 6 27%
6% to 25% : Acceptable 5 23%
26% to 50% : Not Acceptable 0 0%
Greater than 50% : Serious Problem 0 0%

Table 12: Percentage of Pigs Falling During Handling in 22 U.S. Pork Plants
Percentage of Pigs Falling During Handling Number of Plants Percentage of Plants
0% : Excellent 19 86%
1% : Acceptable 2 9%
2% to 4% : Not Acceptable 1 5%
Greater than 5% : Serious Problem 0 0%


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