Scientific Opinion on the use of carbon dioxide for stunning rabbits
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”. 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 is not adequate for a full welfare assessment of the alternative method studied because it does not fulfil the eligibility criteria and the reporting quality criteria defined in this opinion. The shortcomings of the study have been highlighted to indicate where improvements are required. To be considered for a full assessment of the welfare implications of the use of high concentrations of CO2 as a stunning method for rabbits, a study must meet the eligibility standards described herein. A full assessment of the welfare implications of the use of high concentrations of CO2 as a stunning method for rabbits would need to take into account the restraining methods, the pre-stunning, and the stunning phases of the slaughter process and the correlation of the study findings with the results of other scientific evidence.