EFSA meets stakeholders to discuss monitoring of animal welfare at slaughterhouses

30 January 2013

Background information | Agenda and presentations 

Nearly 100 participants from EU institutions, Member States, industry and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) met with scientific experts to discuss the identification of indicators and procedures to monitor animal welfare at slaughterhouses. At the meeting on 30 January, EFSA presented its work in this field and facilitated the exchange of information and experience among scientists and stakeholders. EFSA’s Panel on Animal Health and Welfare Panel (AHAW) will consider information gathered at the meeting in preparing four scientific opinions to be published by end of 2013.

According to new EU legislation on animal welfare at slaughterhouses, business operators must carry out regular checks to ensure that animals do not present any signs of consciousness after stunning and before death.

As requested by the European Commission, the AHAW Panel will identify a set of science-based animal welfare indicators and sampling protocols to assess the effectiveness of stunning and slaughtering processes. Input from the meeting will help inform the preparation of four scientific opinions on procedures to monitor animal welfare at slaughterhouses focussing on bovines, pigs, chickens and turkeys, sheep and goats. EFSA will also systematically review the scientific literature and seek the contribution and views of experts and stakeholders through an online public consultation in summer 2013.

The meeting was welcomed by all participants as an opportunity to consider also the practical side of the assessment of animal welfare and the use of indicators at slaughterhouses. 

A European Commission official said that EFSA’s work, including the constructive discussions held at the meeting, will contribute with science-based tools to the development of standardised procedures to monitor animal welfare at slaughterhouses. The official stressed the importance of an open dialogue between risk managers, risk assessors and relevant stakeholders to support such an innovative approach.

Animal welfare NGOs active in this field responded positively to the initiative. According to a participant, monitoring procedures introduced by the new EU legislation are an essential means to protect animal welfare at the time of killing. This constructive meeting showed promise for the identification of practical and usable indicators to ensure that animals are not exposed to avoidable suffering.

Animal welfare is an important part of EFSA’s remit. The safety of the food chain is indirectly affected by the welfare of animals, particularly those farmed for food production, due to the close links between animal welfare, animal health and food-borne diseases.

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Background information

Council Regulation No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing will apply from 01 January 2013.

It requires food business operators to put in place appropriate monitoring procedures in slaughterhouses. In line with this, the European Commission requested EFSA to produce a scientific opinion concerning such monitoring procedures.

According to Article 16 of the Regulation, operators will have to carry out regular checks to ensure that animals do not present any signs of consciousness or sensibility in the period between the end of the stunning process and death. Article 5 also requires operators, when animals are slaughtered without stunning, to carry out systematic checks to ensure that animals do not present any signs of consciousness or sensibility before being released from restraint and do not present any sign of life before undergoing dressing or scalding.

According to Article 16, a monitoring procedure shall include in particular the following:

  1. indicators designed to detect signs of unconsciousness and consciousness or sensibility in the animals; or indicators designed to detect the absence of signs of life in the animals slaughtered without stunning;
  2. criteria for determining whether the results shown by the indicators previously mentioned are satisfactory;
  3. the circumstances and/or the time when the monitoring must take place;
  4. the number of animals in each sample to be checked during the monitoring.

In line with EFSA’s commitment to regular open dialogue with stakeholders and interested parties that have a legitimate interest in its work, EFSA is inviting Competent authorities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and food business operators to an information meeting about the above mentioned EFSA mandate.

Objectives of the meeting

The purpose of the meeting is to inform participants on the EFSA ongoing mandate on the use of welfare indicators and sampling protocols to assess monitoring procedures during slaughter of the main commercial animal species.

Structure of the meeting

The technical meeting will promote awareness of the work carried out by EFSA on the specific issue of monitoring procedures at slaughter.

During the meeting the mandate from the European Commission will be presented, the approach that EFSA will use in order to address the terms of reference will be explained, together with future follow up, such as a possible public consultation on the draft opinion. Participants will also be invited to indicate representatives, with a direct experience in using welfare indicators at slaughter. Upon EFSA’s invitation, these experts may be asked to participate in future exercises (Expert Knowledge Elicitation) aimed at gathering information on indicators’ performances.

Participants will have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience in assessing welfare indicators during animal stunning and killing, and will have the opportunity to share information on the use of monitoring procedures at slaughterhouses.

Who should attend?

The invitation is addressed to representatives from food business operators involved in the field of slaughter, including animal welfare officers and auditing companies. Also invited are: Member State Competent Authorities, members of EFSA’s Stakeholders Consultative Platform, and NGOs with proven experience in the field.

Due to limited number of seats, EFSA will select participants on the basis of their proven direct expertise and/or direct interest in assessing animal welfare during the slaughter process.

On-line pre-registrations

In order to express interest in the participation at the meeting, it is necessary to pre-register via EFSA’s website. Pre-registrations are now closed.

Deadline for pre-registration: once the maximum number of participants is reached or at the latest by 22 January 2013.

After closure of pre-registration, potential participants will be informed whether they have been selected for participation. Selected participants will be asked to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements at their own expense. There is no fee for participation.

Dates and venue

The meeting will take place on 30th of January 2013 in Parma (Italy), from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. Further details on the venue and logistics will be communicated to participants upon confirmation of selection.  


English is the official language of the meeting. No translation is provided.


For any questions please contact: SHPlatformsecretariat [at] efsa.europa.eu


Agenda (138.49 KB)