The Intergroup on the Welfare & Conservation of Animals has called on the European Commission to phase out slaughter methods that it claims cause immense suffering to animals.
This includes slaughter without pre-stunning, the use of CO2 stunning for pigs, and the use of electrical water-bath stunners for poultry, according to the group.
The demands were voiced at its 310th session in Strasbourg, and followed presentations by animal welfare NGOs on the impact of the new Council Regulation No 1099/2009 concerning the slaughter of animals.
According to the welfare group, most European citizens believe the new regulation, which came into force on 1 January 2013, has improved the conditions and welfare of animals at the time of killing. However, three speakers – from Eurogroup for Animals, Eyes on Animals and Gaia – sought to demonstrate that this was not the case. They argued that the improvements were very limited and that suffering was still very common.
“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,” said a statement by the Intergroup.
Michael Courat, senior policy officer for farm animals at Eurogroup for Animals, welcomed the obligation for staff to receive training and for abattoirs to have an animal welfare officer, but also highlighted flaws in the system.
“Poor implementation and enforcement have been reported by FVO inspectors, but despite the clear failure of member states to respect the law, the European Commission, instead of launching infringement procedures, prefers to start a three-year training programme allowing millions of animals to continue to suffer unnecessarily,” he said.
Margreet Steendijk, from Eyes on Animals, described CO2 as “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,” she added.
Meanwhile, Michel Vandenbosch from Gaia put forward his case for the banning of non-stun slaughter, stating that scientific evidence showed how inhumane it was.
Janusz Wojciechowski MEP, president of the Intergroup, concluded: “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.”