Scientific Opinion on the assessment of studies on the use of carbon dioxide for stunning rabbits
Competing interests: One member of the Panel did not participate in the discussion on the subject referred to above because of potential conflicts of interest identified in accordance with the EFSA policy on declarations of interests.
The EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW Panel) was asked by the European Commission to deliver a scientific opinion on two studies concerned with the use of carbon dioxide for stunning rabbits. The European Commission had received from the Spanish authorities a report of a study entitled ‘Carbon dioxide stunning of rabbits’ and another study entitled ‘Stunning of rabbits with carbon dioxide’, provided as a complement to the first study. The latter was undertaken in a commercial abattoir where a commercial carbon dioxide stunner was installed. The results of electrocardiography and animal-based measures (nasal discomfort and vocalisation) produced in the experimental slaughterhouse study clearly indicated that the rabbits were subjected to pain and suffering prior to the loss of consciousness. The data presented do not describe stable, controlled or repeatable experimental conditions. The statistical tests used to analyse the data were not appropriate. The study in the commercial abattoir was not based on sound scientific conclusions resulting from the experimental slaughterhouse study. For all of these reasons, the submitted studies did not meet the minimum criteria for eligibility in the EFSA guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions. Therefore, they were not further assessed.