Commission must ensure proper implementation and enforcement of the Slaughter Regulation immediately
During its 310th session the Intergroup called on the Commission to phase out killing methods which cause intense suffering to animals, such as slaughter without stunning, the use of CO2 stunning for pigs and the use of electrical water-bath stunners for poultry as soon as possible.
This demand followed presentations by animal welfare NGOs, including Eurogroup for Animals, which analysed the impact on animal welfare of the new Council Regulation No 1099/2009 concerning the slaughter of animals.
Most citizens believe that this new text which came into force on 1st January 2013 has improved the conditions and welfare of animals at time of killing. In fact, the three speakers from Eurogroup for Animals, Eyes on Animals and GAIA demonstrated that the improvements have been very limited and that methods which are a major source of suffering, pain or distress are still widely used. Moreover it is clear from the Food and Veterinary Office audits conducted since 2013 in 14 Member States that the regulation is not being correctly implemented and enforced.
Michel Courat, Senior Policy Officer for farm animals at Eurogroup for Animals, analysed the regulation and welcomed some of its positive points, like the obligation for staff to receive a training, or the obligation for abattoirs to have an Animal Welfare Officer. But he denounced also the negative points of the legislation, such as the possibility of still using CO2 gas for pigs, and electrical water-bath stunners for poultry. He stated; “Poor implementation and enforcement, has been reported by FVO Inspectors but despite the clear failure of member states to respect the law, the European Commission instead of launching infringement procedure prefers to start a three year training programme allowing millions of animals to continue to suffer unnecessarily.”
Margeet Steendijk Eyes on Animals criticised the stunning of pigs with carbon dioxide in her presentation and commented; “CO2 stunning is, from the point of view of animal welfare, a torturous stunning method, as the pigs suffer pain and panic for up to 60 seconds. Already 10 years ago, the European Food Safety Authority asked Member States to phase out CO2 stunning as it is an inhumane method.”
Finally, Michel Vandenbosch from Gaia demonstrated the terrible suffering of animals slaughtered without stunning and he commented; “The practice of slaughter without stunning is unfortunately still allowed and growing in many Member States, despite all the scientific evidence which shows how inhumane it is. One cannot imagine the seconds and often minutes of intense pain and distress that these animals experience before losing consciousness. This practice must be stopped immediately and all animals must be stunned before slaughter.”
As the Intergroup discussion showed, most of the MEPs were shocked to see that such cruel practices are still used in Europe, and called on the Commission to react much quicker and more proactively.
Concluding the debate Janusz Wojciechowski MEP, President of the Intergroup, commented: “The situation highlighted in today’s presentations is totally unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. The European Commission cannot accept that the flaws identified by its own investigation service can be rectified merely by introducing training measures. Infringement measures must be introduced as soon as possible in order that dramatic improvements can be made to the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter, with no exception.”
This practice must be stopped immediately and all animals must be stunned before slaughter.Michel Vandenbosch, President at GAIA