September 15, 2008

EU Proposes New Regulations For Slaughterhouses

European Union regulators are currently exploring new guidelines to govern the methods used by slaughterhouses to stun and kill cattle, pigs and poultry.

The rules for how this is done have not been changed since 1993, and regulators say it's long overdue.

"New technologies have been introduced, making some standards obsolete. Animal welfare concerns have grown in our society," the Commission said in a proposal to update the rules.

"Massive killings during animal epidemics have raised questions about the methods used to carry them out."

About 360 million pigs, sheep, goats and cattle and several billion turkeys and chickens are killed for their meat each year in the EU. An additional 25 million animals are killed for their fur and hatcheries kill about 330 million day-old chicks each year.

Standards of animal protection were unequally enforced in the EU's 27 countries with sometimes very unsatisfactory results, it said, adding that poor conditions for animal welfare during slaughter affected consumer attitudes.

Regulators will form new guidelines for the methods used in slaughterhouses to stun and kill the animals. While it does not seek to ban any major method of stunning, the proposal does limit the use of certain techniques.

For example, slaughterhouse operators will be ordered to monitor the efficiency of their stunning techniques to ensure animals do not wake up during the process.

Stricter rules will apply to training, with staff to be certified for a maximum five years before undergoing a review.

If approved following a debate later this year, the new regulations will ensure better meat quality as well as better health and safety for those working in slaughterhouses.