EFSA reiterates that slaughter without stunning should not be practiced.

EFSA reiterates that slaughter without stunning should not be practiced

5 November 2020

A new Scientific Opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) identifies many animal welfare problems likely to occur in cattle at the time of slaughter, and propose measures to minimise and prevent them. Eurogroup for Animals calls on the EU Commission to take the assessment into account for the revision of the Regulation 1099/2009.

The killing of cattle for human consumption (slaughtering) can take place in a slaughterhouse or during on‐farm slaughter. A new EFSA assessment identified 40 hazards, most of them related to stunning and bleeding, that impact the welfare of these animals while slaughtered. 

Particularly, EFSA identified 12 welfare consequences the cattle can be exposed to during slaughter: 

  • Heat stress
  • Cold stress
  • Fatigue
  • Prolonged thirst
  • Prolonged hunger
  • Impeded movement
  • Restriction of movements
  • Resting problems
  • Social stress
  • Pain
  • Fear 
  • Distress

This Scientific Opinion acknowledges that proper management plays a crucial preventive role and that 97.5% of the hazards identified have their origin in the lack of skills of the operators.

Methods are also causing animal welfare problems. In this regard, despite the Panel agreeing with the World Animal Health (OIE) list of unacceptable methods and procedures, it also raises concern towards certain practices, such as the unloading or moving of severely injured cattle, the use of painful stimuli to move animals, and slaughter without stunning. 

EFSA reaffirms that “slaughter without stunning should not be practiced”, acknowledging that “pre-cut stunning is the only preventive measure for the welfare consequences connected with cutting”. 

With this opinion EFSA set a list of hazards, welfare consequences and related corrective and preventive measures.

These findings should be used by the EU Commission to address the OIE standards and hopefully to inform the revision of the Regulation 1099/2009:eliminating all the practices assessed by EFSA as detrimental from an animal welfare perspective, and for which preventive and/or corrective measures do not exist.

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