European Commission Proposed ‘Tougher’ Actions in Slaughterhouses Really Amount to Very Little for Animal Welfare

Eubusiness, September 18, 2008
Brussels – The European Commission on Thursday proposed tougher rules for slaughterhouses to ensure that farm animals “are humanely treated” before they are killed.
Each year almost 360 million pigs, sheep, goats and cattle as well as several billion poultry are killed in EU slaughterhouses for meat. Another 25 million animals are killed for their fur, according to official figures. “As a society we have a duty of care to animals, which includes minimising distress and avoiding pain throughout the slaughtering process,” said EU Health Commissioner
Androulla Vassiliou. “The current EU rules are outdated and need revision,” she added.

Under the plans no method of stunning and slaughter would be banned, even though some have been identified as being less humane.
For example “the waterbath stunner” for poultry and the use of carbon dioxide will still be permitted as there are not yet viable commercial alternatives, the commission said.
However Brussels wants to make it mandatory for slaughterhouse staff to be properly trained, for technical standards on slaughter equipment to be introduced and for an individual to be responsible for animal welfare in each establishment. Operators will also have to evaluate the efficiency of their stunning methods. “After stunning animals will have to be regularly monitored to ensure they do not regain consciousness before slaughter,” the commission said in a statement.

Compassion in World Farming policy advisor Peter Stevenson welcomed the proposals but said the commission “has shied away from tackling some crucial issues.” His group took especial aim at the electrified water bath and carbon dioxide gassing methods. “Scientific research shows that this method causes severe respiratory distress. Pigs can be seen gasping and hyperventilating,” it said while the electric bath method “can lead to pain and distress and should be replaced by the use of non-aversive gases such as argon or nitrogen”.
Also his rights group and the Belgian Action Group for Animal Rights complained that the measures “will continue to allow animals to be killed without prior stunning for religious slaughter.

“This means that animals have their throat cut while fully conscious — scientific research shows that this causes great suffering,” the groups added in a joint statement.
SAV agree with these statements – once again the EU is making things sound better for the animals using words such as ‘mandatory’ and ‘properly trained’, but in reality, the suffering at EU slaughterhouses will not change to any real degree.
Religious slaughter without stunning is the worst method of all, and in 2003 the United Kingdom FAWC called for it to be banned: it never has been because no one on the political scene anywhere (Uk or Europe) wants to really stand up and argue what is so ‘religious’ about not pre-stunning ! – you could say that the politicians are frightened of upsetting people who call ‘something’ a religious right.
The EU is doing the same; saying words that in reality change nothing and improve nothing for the animals being killed each and every day.
One SAV member writing this article was a Uk rep for Compassion in World Farming – who do some excellent work with campaigning and investigations into farm animal cruelty and suffering.  SAV fully back Peter Stevenson of CIWF when he says they welcomed the proposals but said the commission “has shied away from tackling some crucial issues.”
SAV state that the first thing the EU should do is to enforce an EU wide ban on ritual slaughtering – this would be a good and proper start to REALLY taking some action for farm animal welfare in Europe.
Please visit the CIWF site at

‘Serbia Suffering’ Petition to be Submitted to the European Union Commission During the Week 22-26 September

As can be seen from our article earlier this week,  we have been busy writing to the Serbian government on the issue of a (Serbian) national humane sterilisation program for dogs and cats.


So we were delighted to receive a response within only a few days from Marina Čvorović at the State Secretary Office of the Serbian Ministry of Finance, declaring that the Ministry supports all legitimate efforts in the adoption of humane animal control policies.


We were delighted to hear this and on the 18th September a thank you message has been returned to Marina Čvorović.


We have asked that we very much hope that it will be possible for the Ministry of Finance to engage with their colleagues at the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture on this issue, with special attention and emphasis being given to the most productive and effective use of limited financial resources allocated to stray/roaming animal welfare issues.  We also pointed out that we were sure the Finance Ministry would agree that Serbian taxpayers would wish to see the most beneficial results from their taxable
contributions, and with specific regard to animal welfare, this will be
achieved through the establishment of a ‘No Kill national sterilisation
programme’ as outlined in the orignal SAV and OIPA letters of 13th and 14th September.


We wish to publicly thank Marina Čvorović for the very rapid response from the ministry to our letters of concern about the animals.  We hope that within the next days and weeks we will also hear favourably from the Agriculture Ministry.


Also, as a parallel event to writing to the Serbian government, a formal written presentation has now been prepared by SAV for the EU Commissioners with regard the final delivery to the EU of the petition “Serbia Suffering”, which we closed around a week ago.  The petition can still be seen at although it is no longer open for additional signatures.

The photograph which forms the image to our petition ‘Serbia Suffering’

The full copy of the petition and a covering letter outlining our concerns about Serbia not enforcing its own national animal welfare legislation, as well as a request for a No kill national sterilisation policy to be adopted by the Serbian government, are just two of the issues we are raising with the EU.


We are delighted that 5,538 signatures were collected for the petition in a very short time period – over five times our original estimate, and when combined with all the comments, they make an impressive document of some 246 A4 pages !


As many of the signatures and comments are from existing EU citizens, we will wait to see what the response is from the EU Commission about the situation for animals in Serbia on receipt and review of our letter, petition and several other attachments.  As and when information arrives, we will immediately inform you of any news.


So, things are moving along very much to our satisfaction; the Serbian government knows about the presentation of the petition to the EU, and this coming week the EU will have the formal copy of the petition on which to advance; which we hope includes writing back to us and giving their views and planned actions for the animals of Serbia.


We would especially like to thank everyone who has helped us to make this petition an effective campaign tool with the Serbian government and the EU Commission in working to obtain a better future for the animals in Serbia.