Film Prompted First Humane Slaughter Law

A film showing slaughterhouse workers abusing animals spurs demands for the federal government to put a stop to the behavior. That happened this year — and also a half-century ago, when a Seattle animal rights activist filmed hogs being mistreated at a Washington state slaughterhouse.

The 1950s film helped trigger a fierce debate on Capitol Hill over whether animals deserve some federal protection in their final moments. Congress ultimately decided they did, and 50 years ago this summer, lawmakers passed the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which required that meat purchased by the federal government come from processors who kill their livestock humanely.

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