The term ante-mortem means “before death.” Ante-mortem inspection is the inspection of live animals prior to being slaughtered. All livestock presented for inspected slaughter must receive ante-mortem inspection. This inspection is performed by a program veterinarian or by an Inspector under the supervision of an agency veterinarian. By the authority of K.S.A. 65-6a20, inspectors are to examine and inspect livestock, domestic rabbits and poultry prior to slaughter. The purpose of ante-mortem inspection is to accept only those animals that are healthful, safe from harmful chemical and drug residues and capable of being converted into wholesome products for the consumer. Inspection of live animals is a screening process to remove obviously diseased animals from the food supply prior to slaughter and to identify animals that require a more extensive post-mortem examination by a program veterinarian. It is the first line of defense in protecting the public from potentially harmful meat products. Those animals that exhibit abnormal signs must be withheld from normal slaughter and segregated for closer examination.

The regulations covering ante-mortem inspection of livestock are found in 9 CFR Part 309 and for poultry in 9 CFR Part 381, Subpart J.  Facilities are required to handle livestock humanely as per regulations found in 9 CFR Part 313.  For more information concerning humane handling of livestock, see KDA Humane Handling Booklet.


Post-mortem inspection covers the inspection of the carcasses and parts of meat used for human food. It takes place after ante-mortem inspection, and after the animal has been slaughtered, thus the term “post-mortem,” meaning “after death.” Post-mortem inspection covers the steps in the slaughter process that begin at stunning and ends at the step where the carcass is placed in the cooler. The purpose of post-mortem inspection is to protect the public health by ensuring that the carcasses and parts that enter commerce are wholesome, not adulterated, and properly marked, labeled, and packaged. This means that any carcasses or parts that are unwholesome or adulterated, and thereby unfit for human food, do not enter commerce. As per authority in K.S.A. 65-6a21, inspectors will examine and inspect carcasses and parts thereof of all livestock, domestic rabbits and poultry which are capable of use as human food. All carcasses and parts thereof of such animals found to be not adulterated shall be marked, stamped, tagged or labeled as “inspected and passed.” All inspected and condemned carcasses and parts shall be destroyed for food purposes by the facility in the presence of an inspector.

The regulations that cover post-mortem inspection for livestock can be found in 9 CFR Part 310 and disposal of diseased or otherwise adulterated carcasses and parts can be found in 9 CFR Part 311.