UK vets push for change on the welfare of animals at slaughter


UK vets push for change on the welfare of animals at slaughter

7 September 2020
In a comprehensive new policy, leading vets and other experts have recommended no fewer than 67 ways to improve the welfare of animals at slaughter in order to provide them with a life worth living and a humane death.

Published on 24th August by the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the new policy lands ahead of an upcoming review of England’s Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing regulations (WATOK) by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

BVA’s new position aims to build on current legislation and best practice. As well as a focus on the final events of an animal’s life, its asks span across all areas of the slaughter process:

  • Current legislative protections
  • The vital role of the Official Veterinarian (OV)
  • Provision of suitable abattoir facilities
  • Preparation, transport and acceptance for slaughter
  • Handling and harvesting operations
  • Effective stunning, data capture and reporting
  • Non-stun slaughter, improved regulation, and acceptance of stunning
  • Consumer education and food labelling

The updated policy also covers a wider range of species and focuses on some of those species-specific needs. For the first time its recommendations include fish. In order to improve the welfare of farmed finfish, BVA says that UK Governments should include the effective stunning of finfish as well as general welfare protections in WATOK regulations. It also calls for more research into developing effective and humane methods of stunning for decapods (shrimp, lobsters and crabs) and cephalopods (squid and octopus) as well as wild caught fish.