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carried out a public consultation to receive input from the scientific community and all interested parties on the Draft Guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions regarding animal protection at the time of killing.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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