EU: Research project to find alternatives to high-concentration CO2 stunning or killing of pigs receives budget approval from the EuroParliament.

WAV Comment:

The killing of pigs using CO2 is barbaric, as you can read and see in the video below.  We are not friends of the EU; but we do welcome the new Parliament approval of funding to move away from the cruel and disgusting practice.


Pigs are stunned using a 70% to 90% carbon dioxide concentrate. … Once the animals have been stunned, they must be bled within 15 seconds to avoid the risk of them regaining consciousness.

The slaughter method in question involves lowering pigs into a gas chamber containing CO2, causing them to gasp for breath and hyperventilate, causing pain and panic amongst the terrified animals. This often goes on for 30-60 seconds or more.

UK – Now, at least half of Britain’s pigs are killed this way.

Instead of being discarded as some terrible anachronism, CO2 stunning has instead become industry standard. The convenient way of killing pigs. Yet, it’s not only major supermarkets and industry assurance schemes like Red Tractor that are allowing it: even some organic pigs can be killed this way.

As it stands, consumers have no way of knowing whether meat comes from pigs gassed or stunned by any other method. There’s nothing on the label. There’s no obvious way of choosing one supermarket over another, in this case, as most if not all have gone down this route. You can’t even tell by choosing higher welfare labels like ‘outdoor bred’, ‘outdoor reared’ or ‘organic’. Consumers are left with the very real assumption that if you’re buying pork or bacon, then it may well be from an animal killed in a gas chamber.

Video –

Read all about it at:

High-concentration CO2 stunning of pigs: the European Parliament approves funding to move away from the cruel practice

12 November 2020

Press Release

Research project to find alternatives to high-concentration CO2 stunning or killing of pigs receives budget approval from the EP. Now the European Commission will invest 2 million euro in applied research in an effort to move away from the inhumane procedure.

For immediate release: Brussels 12/11/2020

On November 12, the European Parliament (EP) voted in favour of a preparatory action, initially tabled by MEP Fredrick Federley (RE, SE), aimed at finding alternatives to high-concentration CO2 stunning or killing of pigs. The EC will then invest in applied research to move away from this method, which, in spite of being inherently inhumane, is the most frequently used in all major EU pig slaughterhouses. 

Already in 2019, Eurogroup for Animals published a position paper urging the European Commission to fund research into alternatives, with a view to phasing out this method by 1 January 2025. The use of high-concentration CO2 for the stunning or killing of pigs is allowed by EU Regulation 1099/2009 (the Slaughter Regulation). However, exposure to CO2 is highly aversive for the animals and causes acute pain and severe distress from first exposure to the gas to loss of consciousness.  

This was recently confirmed by the latest EFSA opinion on the welfare of pigs at slaughter, which concluded that “There are no preventive or corrective measures to the pain, fear and respiratory distress caused by the exposure to high CO2 concentrations as this is inherent to the stunning method. The only way to prevent the hazard related to exposure to high CO2  concentrations is to use other gas mixtures like inert gasses or mixture of inert gases containing low CO2  concentrations”.

By voting in favour of this research project, the European Parliament sent a strong signal on the importance of EU-funded research into animal welfare friendly alternatives to CO2 stunning of pigs. For the first time, a substantial sum will be invested by the EC in an applied research project to find painless alternatives for pig stunning. The outcome of the study should lead to a prohibition of CO2 stunning of pigs through the updating of the legislation

Reineke hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals 

The EU is currently the first exporter of pig meat in the world, with 5.5. million tonnes of selected pig products exported in 2019 and a stable demand driven by the Chinese market. It is imperative that these animals are stunned painlessly. 

The European Commission is going to propose a revision of the current animal welfare acquis as part of the EU Farm to Fork strategy, and the rules on slaughter will be updated in the light of the latest scientific evidence. It is expected that the findings of this preparatory action will contribute to guiding this revision process. 


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