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Teagasc publish standard for the management of animal welfare at the time of slaughter

Teagasc has produced a new publication called ‘Standard for the management of animal welfare at time of slaughter’

It’s available at https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/publications/2020/TeagascAW-standard-rev-2--May-25th--2020.pdf  This voluntary standard captures the requirements of the legislation and takes into account adoption of best practices for the control of animal welfare from loading and transport up to the time of killing. The species covered include cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and equine animals. The scope includes all relevant slaughter plant activities as specified in Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009.

Food consumers, retailers, processors and other stakeholders have a high degree of interest in Animal Welfare. The drivers of this are from the widely held view that animals are sentient and possess an emotional and cognitive level of understanding. On this premise, animals feel physical pain and also stress. The consequence of this is that pain and stress must be managed so that it is eliminated or minimised in animal handling and processing.  This view has been reflected through enhanced awareness of the issue and the desire to ensure a high standard of animal welfare is practiced in the food chain. This desire has been manifested within legislation via the introduction of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing.

According to Lead author, Kevin Brennan, a principal food assurance specialist in the Teagasc Food Industry Development Department: ‘Whilst management of animal welfare is now a legal imperative it is also a subject which is a fundamental requirement of integrated food assurance programmes. Both regulations and standards have as an underlining theme the basis of what has become commonly termed the ‘five freedoms’ i.e. freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain injury or disease, freedom to express normal behaviour and free from fear and distress. In later years a possible sixth freedom has crept into this concept and that is the freedom to be free. This is of particular interest in the Irish context where animals, particularly sheep and cattle, spend much of their lifespan grazing pastures. Of particular relevance in this area is the direct negative impact of poor animal welfare practices on meat safety and quality. I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to assist in the development of this publication which further consolidates the above with new and innovative concepts in the management of welfare from farm to lairage”.

Frank O’ Mara, Director of Research in Teagasc said: “This ‘Standard for the management of animal welfare at time of slaughter’ endeavours to make animal welfare issues for animals destined for humane slaughter central to the operation of the slaughter facility. The role of this document is to specify protocols for a business operator to comply with animal welfare requirements as specified in legislation and best practices for slaughter and related activities. Following these requirements will ensure that animals are handled and slaughtered in a humane fashion and spared any avoidable distress, pain or suffering.”