Welfare at slaughter

64% of UK vets chose welfare at slaughter or pre-stunning as a top priority for government according to the Spring 2015 Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey.

In addition to this, 9 out of 10 vets believe consumers should be better informed about slaughter methods.

We have developed positions on the following:

We also have a related policy position on transporting animals to slaughter

Non-stun slaughter

EU regulation on the Protection of animals at the time of killing came into force in 2013. It aims to improve the conditions for animals at the time of slaughter or killing and ensure they are treated humanely.

However, EU and UK legislation allows an exemption for animals that are slaughtered for food for Jewish and Muslim communities. Some of these communities allow stunning before slaughter, others do not.

Our position on non-stun slaughter

We believe that all animals should be stunned before slaughter.

If slaughter without stunning is still to be permitted:

  • any meat or fish from this source must be clearly labelled to enable consumers to fully understand the choice they are making when purchasing such products
  • immediate post-cut stunning offers a valid means of reducing the suffering of animals at slaughter - although the option of post-cut stunning is not equivalent to pre-cut stunning it presents a highly desirable refinement
  • where an immediate post-cut stun is applied, we believe that the requirement for sheep/goats to remain stationary for a minimum period of 20 seconds is unnecessary as stunning renders the animal immediately unconscious and insensible to pain
  • the supply of non-stun products should be matched with demand

    View our full policy statement on non-stun slaughter (25 KB PDF)

    BBC Three Counties Radio - Sean Wensley talks about non-stun slaughter 04.11.15 by Britishvets on Mixcloud

    CCTV in slaughterhouses

    We support the 12 recommendations to improve animal welfare at slaughter, as published in the February 2015 Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC)  opinion report on Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in slaughterhouses.

    Our position on CCTV in slaughterhouses

    We believe all slaughterhouses should install CCTV in all areas where live animals are kept and killed.

    View our full policy position on CCTV in slaughterhouses (90 KB PDF) which we developed in 2015 with the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA).

    Welfare standards for production animals

    Our Ethics and Welfare Group has identified 5 welfare standards for production animals, in addition to existing legal and regulatory obligations. These 5 standards outline that all retailer welfare policies and farm assurance schemes should at least:

    • Cover the welfare of the animal from birth to slaughter, ‘farm to fork’, including the use of CCTV in approved slaughterhouses
    • Ensure all animals are able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns within a suitable living environment
    • Use stockmen, slaughterhouse workers and hauliers who are trained in farm animal welfare
    • Include welfare during transport and specify skill sets for hauliers and the use of high specification vehicles, with use of live transport kept to a minimum
    • Guarantee all animals are stunned before slaughter, so that they do not experience unnecessary suffering at the point of slaughter

    Our activity on welfare at slaughter

    2017

    • Supported the FSA Best Practice Guidelines for group stunning systems developed in partnership with the Humane Slaughter Association, University of Bristol, and Food Standards Scotland. Reduction systems or crowding gates within a group stunning environment can deliver welfare benefits by facilitating stun accuracy and reducing operator fatigue.

    2016

    • Identified 5 welfare standards for production animals, then wrote to supermarkets and food producers to highlight best practice and invite them to demonstrate how their businesses met or went beyond these standards

     

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        Related legislation on welfare at slaughter