In "Least painful way to die" we get an answer ...

Companion animals (e.g., dogs and cats): injected barbiturates are recommended

Laboratory animals (e.g., mice and rats): injected barbiturates are acceptable as are inhaled agents (isoflurane, carbon dioxide).

And assume the butcher guy as soon as he comes to know the animal is gone, he will do the following....

A very sharp knife is used in this process: the point of the knife cuts into the animal's throat and cuts through the dewlap, trachea, esophagus and jugular vein immediately below the jaw-line to allow the blood to flow out.........Animals are bled out before being dressed because it prevents blood from coagulating in the tissues and thus making the meat go rancid. (Source Slaughter Cattle commercial method - Step 6)

Here's my question... What if the animal was killed using 'barbiturates', then is that animal safe for eating by humans or the high levels of 'barbiturates' in that body cause unwanted results in humans too (if they consume it)?

I'm new to biology. :)

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    $\begingroup$ even if it is OK, drugs might be too expensive for large-scale food manufacturing $\endgroup$ May 5, 2015 at 22:08
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    $\begingroup$ but at the cost of the pain of animals... suppose if people become merciful enough to spend more bucks to eat a hen... then? @aandreev $\endgroup$
    – azam
    May 5, 2015 at 23:06
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    $\begingroup$ Barbiturates are narcotics.. they will have even more stringent restrictions compared to NSAIDs and antibiotics. $\endgroup$
    May 6, 2015 at 5:25
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    $\begingroup$ It is important to note that farm animals are not protected under the animal welfare act $\endgroup$
    – C_Z_
    May 6, 2015 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ Yes and no. To be more specific, there exists a "common farming practices" exemption in the animal welfare act, meaning a practice that is considered a common farming practice, such as using a knife for slaughter, can be performed legally on farm animals when it would be illegal to perform it on, for instance, a dog. So, it's not that you can do whatever you want to farm animals, but rather you can do any common farming practices to them. It is also important to note, as WYSIWYG said, that barbiturates are narcotics and not necessarily safe for consumption in any case. $\endgroup$
    – C_Z_
    May 6, 2015 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


For many drugs, the animal cannot be slaughtered for consumption within a certain time. Here are the slaughter withdrawal periods for some common drugs when used on cattle. There are also withdrawal periods for lactating dairy cattle, but I won't list them for brevity.

  • flunixin (NSAID) - 6 days
  • florfenicol (antibiotic) - 36 days intramuscular, 55 days subcutaneous
  • penicillin G procaine (antibiotic) - 10-14 days
  • tilmicosin (antibiotic) - 28 days
  • oxytetracycline (antibiotic) - 28 days intramuscular, 48 days subcutaneous
  • enrofloxacin (antibiotic) - 36 days, do not use in veal calves

More importantly for your question, I have found this report on pentobarbital used for euthanizing cattle. It says:

Adequate measures should be taken to ensure that carcasses of animals treated with this product and the by-products of these animals do not enter the food chain and are not used for human or animal consumption.

Barbiturates are more dangerous than many other drugs and, furthermore, dead animals cannot metabolize them and they can be quite heat stable (ie won't readily decompose during cooking).

  • $\begingroup$ seriously! you answered this? Cool! ......I know a simple 'thanks' is not sufficient, but still, a simple 'thanks'. :) $\endgroup$
    – azam
    Jun 1, 2015 at 9:34
  • $\begingroup$ @servantofWiser You're welcome. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Jun 3, 2015 at 17:08

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