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Outcome of the Stakeholders and Public consultation on the practice of harvesting feathers from live geese for down production

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The European Commission requested the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to assess the welfare aspects of the practice of harvesting feathers from live geese for down production. In order to ensure that the scientific opinion was based on comprehensive, relevant and up-to-date information, the Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) Unit undertook a consultation with its stakeholders through a Technical Meeting at the inception of the assessment (May 2010) followed by a web-based public consultation on the draft output (August 2010). Technical and scientific representatives from the goose breeding organisations, breeding companies, feathers industry, EU Member States representatives, DG Sanco and animal welfare NGOs attended the Technical Meeting and discussed about the practical aspects of the harvesting and whether it should be considered plucking or not. The quantity and quality of the feathers with the eventual difference on quality depending if they come from live or slaughtered animals were also discussed. These discussions emphasized the most relevant aspects to be considered in the scientific opinion and also highlighted the areas where additional information could be provided. A web-based consultation on the draft scientific output was launched in July 2010. The total number of electronic submissions was 922. Comments were discussed and addressed by the working group in the draft opinion, when the WG considered their scientific basis to be valid and robust. The draft document submitted to public consultation was revised and the scientific opinion on the welfare aspects of the practice of harvesting feathers was adopted by the AHAW Panel on 27th of October 2010.

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