New York Congressman Steven LaTourette (D-NY) and Sen. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) have introduced legislation to ban the slaughter of downer farm animals.

The act would amend the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act of 1958 to prohibit downed animals from becoming part of the human food supply.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture imposed a temporary ban on processing downer cattle following the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in 2003.

In making this temporary measure permanent, it would also cover sheep, swine, goats, horses and mules. It would also call for immediate, humane euthanasia as soon as an animal becomes non-ambulatory.

In opposing the legislation, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) noted that some hogs become fatigued or non-ambulatory after transport. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service inspect those pigs for fitness to be passed into the human food supply. NPPC points out the great majority of fatigued pigs recover with rest and are processed without affecting either food safety or meat quality.