Eurogroup for Animals and its 69 member organisations are calling for a move away from high concentration CO2 stunning of pigs, a common method of slaughter that causes acute pain and severe suffering.
In a newly released position paper, the organisations are calling for investments from the industry and national and EU decision makers to find a painless alternative to the practice, which is used in the majority of large EU pig slaughterhouses as it allows for faster operations and more uniform meat quality. By way of an example, Spain, Germany and Denmark, which rank among the top five EU countries for pig production, slaughter between 85 and 95% of pigs with CO2 – which translates into more than 100 million pigs per year.
High concentration CO2 stunning causes pain and distress in pigs from first exposure to the gas to loss of consciousness, which can take up a minute to occur. Footage of the suffering inflicted on pigs during this stunning procedure released by animal advocacy organisations has sparked outrage in the EU and internationally.
The position of Eurogroup for Animals is that – in the spirit of Recital 6 of the EC Slaughter Regulation (1099/2009) – the stunning of pigs with high concentrations of CO2 should be phased out as quickly as possible. “We firmly believe that the suffering inflicted to millions of pigs due to CO2 stunning cannot be allowed to continue,” says Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals. “Research and development resources should be urgently devoted to looking for alternatives that can be widely and quickly adopted.”
Eurogroup for Animals and its member organisations are calling on the European Commission to revise the Slaughter Regulation to prohibit the use of high-concentration CO2 as a stunning or killing method for pigs from 1 January 2025, with a review in 2023 to verify the availability of commercially viable non-aversive alternatives.
“The European Commission, the EU Member States and the pig industry must invest the necessary funding, energy and commitment to developing one or more alternative stunning methods that either induce instantaneous unconsciousness or, if the process is gradual, are not distressing to the animals,” adds Elena Nalon, senior veterinary adviser for farmed animals at Eurogroup for Animals.