At the time of killing, animals are not always stunned.
In cases where stunning does take place, this is not always done effectively.
This implies that animals can still be conscious when bleeding starts. Despite the fact that pre-slaughter stunning is mandatory under the EU Regulation 1099/2009, a derogation is foreseen for slaughter carried out according to certain religious prescriptions.
This type of slaughter, along with the use of ineffective stunning methods, are currently the major drivers of animal suffering in slaughterhouses in Europe. Certain stunning methods do not induce instantaneous and painless unconsciousness (see below).
Additionally, staff training and skill level play a crucial role in determining animal welfare at slaughter. The EFSA recently identified a vast range of welfare problems occurring in poultry and rabbits at slaughter that are associated to skill level, as well as the level of attention of the people performing the slaughtering.
In the case of electrical water baths used for stunning poultry, birds may miss the electrified water bath completely or partially.
Animals can lift their heads before entering the water, or there can be difficulties in achieving the suitable amperage for every single bird entering the water bath.
Another method, high concentration CO2 stunning, causes pain and distress for pigs from first exposure to the gas to loss of consciousness.
This can take up a minute to occur. Yet it is used in the majority of large EU pig slaughterhouses as it allows for faster operations and more uniform meat quality.
IN HIGH CONCENTRATION CO2 STUNNING, LOSS OF CONSCIOUSNESS CAN TAKE
SECONDS TO OCCUR
BROILER CHICKENS ARE SLAUGHTERED IN THE EU PER YEAR
IN 2016's EUROBAROMETER SURVEY,
OF RESPONDENTS THOUGHT THAT PROTECTING THE WELFARE OF FARMED ANIMALS IS IMPORTANT
Eurogroup for Animals will push for a revision of the Slaughter Regulation to include alternative stunning methods for pigs and poultry.
We will also push for species-specific rules on effective stunning in aquaculture, and remove the derogation to mandatory stunning. We will engage with religious communities to share best practices and work towards the acceptance of reversible stunning.
Finally, to ensure animal welfare and prevent cruelty, we will push for mandatory CCTV in all EU and EU-certified slaughterhouses, and for guidelines for equine slaughter.