Wet Houders van Dieren: Implementatie van Verordening EU 1099/2009 binnen Nederland

Er worden binnen de Europese primaire pluimvee bedrijven jaarlijks 97 miljoen wrakke of zieke dieren handmatig gedood omdat ze hun economische waarde hebben verloren en/of uit hun lijden moeten worden verlost. Voor Nederland betekent dit ca. 5,54 miljoen vleeskuikens en een kleine 620.000 leghennen

Die uitval is een ongewenst bijverschijnsel en wordt binnen de sector als een intern probleem beschouwd. Het publiek is zich nauwelijks bewust dat het om zulke grote aantallen dieren gaat die geen keuze hebben tussen onnodig leiden en een langzame dood. Bij zulke aantallen is dierenwelzijn is in het geding en de betroffen dieren verdienen meer dan gebagitaliseerd te worden, alsof het om een te verwaarlozen probleem zou gaan.

De Europese Verordening EU 1099/2009 die per 1 januari 2013 binnen alle Europese lidstaten van kracht is geworden. werd in Nederland opgenomen in de wet Houders van Dieren die per 22 augustus 2014 van kracht is geworden.

Deze nieuwe dierenwelzijnswet biedt unieke kansen voor gespecialiseerde pluimvee dierenartsen om een sleutelrol te vervullen in de transformatie van de pluimvee sector.

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Cervical neck dislocation: The legal framework/EU Directive 1099/2009

In Europe, animal welfare is a part of the ‘licence to operate’ for the animal production industry, and the agricultural sector is one of the most heavily regulated sectors in the EU.

Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 has come into force throughout the EU. The objective pursued by this regulation is to provide a level playing field within the internal market for all operators. Cervical neck dislocation is the traditional method of killing poultry on the farm. What changed after the Regulation 1099/2009 came into force at January 1, 2013 is that farmers are no longer allowed to use neck dislocation as routine method under emergency conditions to kill sick and cripple animals on the farm.

Many farmers lack information about alternative systems and often do not see any advantage in changing their processes, euthanizing sick and cripple animals in a more welfare friendly manner. An important problem is that the use of modern, more advanced animal welfare friendly systems of production often conflicts with economic pressure on operators to reduce costs. Not applying to administrative laws is a serious offense, usually sanctioned with high financial penalties.

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Besluit Houders van Dieren

Op 5 Juli 2014 werd het langverwachte Besluit Houders van Dieren in de Nederlandse Staatscourant gepubliseerd. Deze nieuwe wetgeving regelt onder andere het dierenwelzijn op productiebedrijven en is op 22 Augustus 2014 definitief van kracht geworden.

In het besluit zijn de Europese bepalingen overgenomen die zijn vervat in Europese Verordening EU 1099/2009. Het regelt onder meer het doden van wrakke of zieke productie dieren die op het landbouwbedrijf noodzakelijk gedood worden omdat ze hun economische waarde hebben verloren en/of uit hun lijden moeten worden verlost.

De Europese verordening voorziet bepalingen die een einde maakt aan de gebruikelijke praktijk om pluimvee door middel van handmatig breken van de nek te doden. Deze methode mag met ingang van het Besluit Houders van Dieren uitluitend nog toegepast worden als backup systeem. Iedere pluimveehouder is gehouden om een een standaard protocol te ontwikkelen en het personeel te trainen in het doden van pluimvee op het bedrijf.

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The relevance of the farming community regarding zoonoses

During the EFSA’s Stakeholder Consultative meeting in Parma on Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th June 2011, EFS interacted with the stakeholders on EFSA’s scientific activities and the outlook of the future activities involving the stakeholders.

Annette TOFT presented the opinion of the European farmers and agricultural cooperatives COPA – COGECA, stressing the relevance of zoonoses questions to farmers and agri – cooperatives activities.

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EFSA (AHAW) report on monitoring procedures at poultry slaughterhouses

The EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) was asked to deliver scientific opinions on monitoring procedures at slaughterhouses for different animal species, stunning methods and slaughter without stunning. AHAW agreed that, although it is traditional to look for outcomes of unconsciousness in poultry following stunning, the risk of poor welfare can be detected better if bird welfare monitoring is focused on detecting consciousness, i.e. ineffective stunning or recovery of consciousness.
Therefore, the indicators were phrased neutrally (e.g. corneal reflex) and the outcomes were phrased either suggesting unconsciousness (e.g. absence of corneal reflex) or suggesting consciousness (e.g. presence of corneal reflex). This approach is commonly used in animal health studies (e.g. testing for the presence of a disease) but very new to animal welfare monitoring in slaughterhouses.
A toolbox of selected indicators is proposed to check for signs of consciousness in poultry after stunning with waterbaths or gas mixtures; a different toolbox of indicators is proposed for confirming death of the birds following slaughter without stunning.

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EFSA report: Unlikely that the percussive blow-to-the-head method will be allowed to slaughter animals

New methods have to be developed to replace brute-force methods like smashing animals with their head against the wall. And these methods have to be approved by EFSA. This is one of the important conclusions after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) carried out a public consultation to receive input from the scientific community and all interested parties on the Draft Guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions regarding animal protection at the time of killing.

The guidance was prepared by the EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW Panel) and endorsed by the Panel for public consultation by written procedure on 10 July 2013. The written public consultation for this document was open from 15 July 2013 to 18 September 2013.

The current report summarizes the outcome of the public consultation, and includes a brief summary of the comments received and how they were addressed. The AHAW Panel prepared an updated version of the Guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions regarding animal protection at the time of killing that takes into account the questions and comments received.

One comment referred to a project regarding stunning piglets and goat kids by concussion (blow-at-the-head method):

“We have funded a research project looking at stunning piglets and goat kids by concussion as this is not currently permitted by 1099/2009, however has been common practice within industry on farm in the past –given that this opinion considers LAPS, should it also include concussion by a blow to the head? We are not aware of results at this stage, therefore I cannot comment on whether we will request in the future EFSA to review this method for inclusion” (Page 6).

The same comment was made, referring to concussion:

“We have funded a research project looking at stunning piglets and goat kids by concussion as this is not currently permitted by 1099/2009 however it has been common practice within industry on farm in the past – given that this opinion considers LAPS should it also include concussion by a blow to the head? We are not aware of results at this stage therefore I cannot comment on whether we will request in the future EFSA to review this method for inclusion” (Page 13).

EFSA Replies to this question as follows:

“The criteria and rules defined in this document apply also to back-up stunning methods used in slaughterhouses. While no detailed eligibility criteria for interventions other than those already defined in the Regulation can be provided in this document, the intervention has to be reported in sufficient detail and the outcome eligibility criteria must be fulfilled.”

And;

“The guidance considers all new or modified legal stunning interventions and back-up stunning interventions used at slaughter known to the AHAW Panel at the initiation of the mandate.”

This means that if the percussive blow-to-the-head method should become a legal method of killing or slaughter – other than as a back-up method – it has to undergo the same procedures as all killing and slaughter methods. That means the final end to the blow-on-the-head slaughter method. After the introduction of EU 1099/2009 it is no longer allowed as method to slaughter piglets, male sheep and goats, rabbits and chickens (with up to 5 kg live weight).

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EFSA paper on monitoring procedures at slaughterhouses

The objective of this review was to summarize the currently available data describing the sensitivity and specificity of indicators of unconsciousness and death in the following stun-kill methods and species combinations:

1) Penetrative captive bolt for bovine animals
2) Head-only electrical stunning for pigs
3) Head-only electrical stunning for sheep and goats
4) Electrical waterbath for poultry (chickens and turkeys)
5) Carbon dioxide at high concentration for pigs
6) All authorized gas methods to slaughter chickens and turkeys (carbon dioxide at high concentration, carbon dioxide in two phases, carbon dioxide associated with inert gases and inert gases alone)
7) Slaughter without stunning for bovine animals
8) Slaughter without stunning for sheep and goats
9) Slaughter without stunning for chickens and turkeys

The reference tests for unconsciousness and death were to have been measured using electroencephalography (EEG). The definition of unconsciousness and death based on EEG were not specified, and the definition used by authors was reported. The index tests of interest were a variety of indicators requested by the funding agency such as no corneal reflex and immediate collapse.

The index tests differed by stun-kill methods and species combination. A comprehensive search identified 22 publications contained 24 species-stun/kill method combinations.

No studies explicitly reported the sensitivity and specificity of the indicators in conscious and unconscious animals. Many studies reported the proportion of stunned animals with indicators, rather than the proportion of unconscious or conscious animals at a set time point with the indicators. Such data could not be translated into sensitivity and specificity.

Other studies reported the average time to occurrence of an indicator or average time to cessation of the indicators. Such data cannot be translated into sensitivity and specificity estimates without knowledge of the joint distributions.

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LAPS system to stun poultry is not allowed within the EU

There are two different approaches utilize Nitrogen to stun and kill animals: 1) rendering poultry unconscious – causing Anoxia – by placing poultry in foam filled with >98% Nitrogen (the Anoxia method), and 2) rendering poultry unconscious by gradually reducing oxygen tension in the atmosphere leading to progressive hypoxia in the birds (the LAPS method).

The Anoxia method, using a high concentration of Nitrogen under atmospheric circumstances is permitted under EU 1099/2009. The LAPS method is not permitted in the EU. In order to be allowed in the EU, new stunning methods must ensure a level of welfare at least equivalent to that of the methods already provided in Council Regulation 1099/2009.

The EFSA‟s Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW Panel) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the use of a low atmosphere pressure system (LAPS) for stunning poultry. Four documents were provided by the European Commission (EC) as the basis for an assessment of the extent to which the LAPS is able to provide a level of animal welfare at least equivalent to that ensured by the current allowed methods for stunning poultry.

The LAPS is described as rendering poultry unconscious by gradually reducing oxygen tension in the atmosphere leading to progressive hypoxia in the birds. In order to be allowed in the EU, new stunning methods must ensure 1) absence of pain, distress and suffering until the onset of unconsciousness, and 2) that the animal remains unconscious until death.

The submitted studies were peer-reviewed by the AHAW Panel as outlined in its “Guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning intervention regarding animal protection at the time of killing”.

It is unclear from the submitted documents whether the rate of decompression used in LAPS induces unconsciousness and death without causing avoidable pain and suffering in poultry. The assessed studies did not pass the eligibility assessment and, therefore, no further assessment was undertaken.

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EFSA Guidance on assessment new stunning & slaughter methods

This guidance defines the assessment process and the criteria that will be applied by the Animal Health and Welfare Panel to studies on known new or modified legal stunning interventions to determine their suitability for further assessment.

The criteria that need to be fulfilled are eligibility criteria, reporting quality criteria and methodological quality criteria. The eligibility criteria are based upon the legislation and previously published scientific data. They focus on the intervention and the outcomes of interest, i.e. immediate onset of unconsciousness and insensibility or absence of avoidable pain, distress and suffering until the loss of consciousness and sensibility, and duration of the unconsciousness and insensibility (until death).

If a study fulfils the eligibility criteria, it will be assessed regarding a set of reporting quality criteria that are based on the REFLECT and the STROBE statements. As a final step in this first assessment phase, the methodological quality of the submitted study will be assessed. If the criteria regarding eligibility, reporting quality and methodological quality are fulfilled, a full assessment of the animal welfare implications of the proposed alternative stunning intervention, including both pre-stunning and stunning phases, and an evaluation of the quality, strength and external validity of the evidence presented would be carried out at the next level of the assessment.

In the case that the criteria regarding eligibility and reporting quality and methodological quality are not fulfilled, the assessment report of the panel will highlight the shortcomings and indicate where improvements are required before the study can be assessed further. In addition to the assessment criteria, the guidance also specifies general aspects applicable to studies on stunning interventions that should be considered when studying the effectiveness of stunning interventions.

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European rabbit production in deep trouble

Because in practice, farmed rabbits get sick, old or cannot be used for scientific testing (up to 1/3 of all farmed test animals cannot be used because they don’t fit the test profile), they have to be killed, either at the slaughterhouse (meat production) or on the farm facility. Up to January 1, 2013, using a high concentration of Co2 killed the rabbits.

That process was declared illegal, after the introduction of EU Directive EU 1099/2009 that only allows the following techniques to kill rabbits:

• Penetrative captive bolt device
• Firearm with free projectile
• Percussive blow to the head
• Lethal injection

All these techniques require an intensive contact between animals and operators. In case of an outbreak, using labor-intensive techniques need to be avoided, based on costs and the risks of spreading through human intervention. So what are the options: A new technique needs to be introduced to the European Food Safety Authority EFSA of the scientific committee of DG SANCO.

However sympathetic the scientific committee thinks about the need to develop a new technique for large-scale killing of rabbits, the industry has to take the initiative to present a complete science-based report, that is conducted according to Guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions regarding animal protection at the time of killing.

The Panel on Animal Health and Welfare was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the use of carbon dioxide for stunning rabbits. Specifically, EFSA was asked to give its view on the findings of the study performed by the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain) and the Animal Technology Centre CITA-ITAVIA “Estudio sobre la valoración mediante parámetros técnicos y de manejo del sistema de aturdimiento con gas CO2”. (red: “Study on the assessment by technical parameters and system management with CO2 gas stunning.”).

The answer was not at all satisfactory for the rabbit industry: As a first step, the type of study, critical variables, experimental design, data collection and analysis and reporting methods needed to supply scientific evidence that the use of CO2 is an acceptable alternative for the stunning of rabbits were defined. These criteria were then applied to the study.

The submitted study was not adequate for a full welfare assessment of the alternative method studied because it does not fulfill the eligibility criteria and the reporting quality criteria defined, according to the opinion of the committee. Follow this link to se the entire report. The rabbit industry has to raise sufficient funds to bring forward a complete report, ticking all the boxes, to enable EFSA to review the killing method proposed. First after EFSA is convinced that the proposed method is an improvement, the technique is accepted, meaning that in line with EU 1099/2009 all criteria like training & certification described in EU 1099/2009 need to be in considered as well.

Why is this so significant? Let’s assume that the rabbit industry would like to use the Anoxia method for killing rabbits. The method needs to go through the entire EFSA procedure before it can be applied within the rabbit industry. That would be the best option, but it still include going to the entire process of approval.

This makes it so hard to introduce better and more animal welfare friendly techniques like the Anoxia method to be applied within the EU. The rabbit industry is relatively small, but they have to fulfill the rules within the directive, if not, it will be the end of this industry if they do not come up with a solution that is validated and approved by EFSA.

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