Protection of Animals

Protection of Animals

Council Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing

Background

Animal welfare at slaughter was protected in Member States by their national welfare of animals legislation. These national laws transposed Council Directive 93/119/EC on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing. On 1st January 2013 a new EU Regulation, 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing, comes into effect, replacing Directive 93/119/EC. This was developed in light of scientific developments, European Food Safety Authority opinions and public concern regarding poor practice in some member states. Its aim is to improve welfare in several key areas whilst ensuring a level playing field for business operators.

This change in EU legislation means that WASK must be revoked, at least in part, and replaced with new domestic legislation to implement and enforce Regulation 1099/2009.

Regulation 1099/2009 mainly comprises technical rules that are directly applicable in all Member States. However, it adopts a more outcome-led approach than current domestic WASK legislation, setting out a number of overarching welfare requirements that must be met while giving relatively little detail on how this should be achieved. This could potentially give rise to gaps in protection compared with current domestic legislation. To offset this, Regulation 1099/2009 provides the option to retain national rules existing in domestic legislation in 2009 (when the Regulation came into force) and/or to introduce new national rules on slaughter outside a slaughterhouse, farmed game, and religious slaughter where these go beyond the Regulation in terms of protecting animal welfare.

This flexibility in how the Regulation is implemented is unusual and the Scottish Government must consider the public-good benefits, ethical considerations, and the financial costs to businesses attached to taking advantage of it. We must also consider the most appropriate way of enforcing those directly applicable elements of the Regulation in Scotland. This Consultation is one method by which we shall gather information to inform the final shape of the implementing legislation. The Consultation is running for 8 weeks from 29th August to 26th October 2012

Summary of Main Issues

Key points are the following:

  • Directly applicable measures. Regulation 1099/2009 mainly comprises technical rules that are directly applicable in all Member States. These give rise to changes in, for example: the scope of the legislation, licensing arrangements, management practices, operational practices, and stunning requirements.
  • Certificates of Competence. One aspect of the directly applicable measures that will be of particular interest is the transition from national slaughter licences to Regulation 1099/2009 Certificates of Competence. The EU Regulation introduces a two-step approach to licensing, with a requirement to undergo training and assessment by a body free from any conflict of interest and to exchange the resulting qualification certificate for a Certificate of Competence. Under the new system, training and assessment to obtain a Certificate of Competence will be independent of the competent authority and will be delivered as a qualification in line with an agreed framework and awarded by independently accredited organisations. Crucially, the requirement for training and a Certificate of Competence will be extended to those handling livestock prior to slaughter, including in lairage.
  • Existing national rules. Regulation 1099/2009 allows Member States to maintain national rules existing when the Regulation came into force on 8 December 2009 where these provide more extensive protection of animals at the time of killing than the minimum standards prescribed by Regulation 1099/2009. There are a number of specific areas where the Regulation might be considered to set lower welfare standards than currently apply in the Member States.
  • New national rules. Regulation 1099/2009 also allows the introduction of new stricter national rules to improve welfare protection given to animals killed outside a slaughterhouse, farmed game and animals killed by methods prescribed by religious rites.
  • Religious slaughter. Slaughter without pre-stunning is permitted for religious purposes by Regulation 1099/2009, but the conditions laid down for welfare protection in this situation are far behind existing UK legislation. The Regulation does allow Member States to impose further conditions or even to ban the practice through national rules. There are obviously strong feelings from both perspectives as to how far this opportunity should be taken.

Purpose and Scope of Regulation 1099/2009

Welfare at slaughter or killing is subject to the requirements of Council Directive 93/119/EC, which has been transposed in Great Britain by the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 (WASK) as amended. In 2008 the Commission brought forward proposals to replace Directive 93/119 with a new EU Regulation, which, unlike the EU Directive, contains legal obligations that are directly applicable and binding in their entirety in Member States. In proposing a Regulation the Commission’s general objectives were to improve the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing, while ensuring a level playing field for all business operators concerned, so that their competitiveness is not affected by discrepancies in their production costs or their market access.

Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at killing was made by the European Council in September 2009 and comes into effect on 1 January 2013 (although some measures in relation to layout, construction and equipment in slaughterhouses do not come into effect until December 2019 for existing slaughterhouses). The Regulation will be directly applicable in all Member States including the UK. Directive 93/119 will be repealed when Regulation 1099/2009 comes into effect, except for specific articles subject to transitional provisions and listed in the Regulation.

Regulation 1099/2009 provides a legal framework to ensure that overarching welfare outcomes are achieved, namely that the best possible welfare standards are achieved when killing animals in specific situations. The detail of how this will be achieved is often left to business operators to dictate according to their local situation. This approach differs slightly to the current WASK regulation, which although it also establishes overarching welfare requirements, gives additional detailed technical standards required for key aspects of the slaughter process on the assumption that if these standards are met, the required welfare outcomes will be achieved.

Regulation 1099/2009 will apply to the killing of all animals bred and kept for the production of food, wool, skin, fur and other products in slaughterhouses and on farms, as well as to depopulation for disease control and to related operations. . It will ensure that vertebrate animals (including poultry and fish, but excluding reptiles and amphibians) are spared any avoidable pain, distress or suffering at the time of killing.

Animals (other than fish) must be killed by an approved method that leads to instant death or death after stunning. The only exceptions to this are where slaughter is carried out in accordance with religious rites (e.g. Halal or Schechita), subject to any national rules in place in individual Member States, or where animals are killed in an emergency.

Regulation 1099/2009 does not apply to animals killed during scientific experiments, hunting, recreational fishing, cultural or sporting events or to rabbits and poultry slaughtered outside a slaughterhouse by their owner for his/her private domestic consumption. Some aspects of Regulation 1099/2009 only apply to slaughter activities. In this context it is important to note that Regulation 1099/2009 defines slaughter as killing for human consumption, not causing the death of an animal by bleeding as is currently the case under WASK.

Objectives for intervention

There are public good benefits and ethical considerations associated with the conduct of animal slaughter that provide a rationale for the Government’s involvement. Whilst Regulation 1099/2009 is directly applicable to all Member States it also requires Member States to lay down rules on penalties and to take all measures to ensure they are implemented. Penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. In addition, Article 26(1) of Regulation 1099/2009 allows Member States to maintain existing national rules ensuring more extensive welfare protection than the minimum standards provided under Regulation 1099/2009 and Article 26(2) allows Member States to adopt new national rules in relation to religious slaughter, slaughter outside a slaughterhouse and slaughter of farmed game. To avoid duplication of statutory requirements redundant elements of the current legislative framework must be repealed where superseded by Regulation 1099/2009. These measures require Government intervention.

Directly applicable measures in Regulation 1099/2009

Regulation 1099/2009 adopts an outcome-led approach. It sets out a number of overarching welfare requirements that must be met to ensure the welfare of animals is protected when they are killed, but gives relatively little detail on how this should be achieved. It obliges any person, including business operators, to ensure that animals are spared any avoidable pain, distress or suffering during their killing and related operations and requires business operators to take measures to ensure that animals:

  • Are provided with physical comfort and protection, in particular by being kept clean in adequate thermal conditions and prevented from falling or slipping.
  • Are protected from injury.
  • Are handled and housed taking into consideration their normal behaviour.
  • Do not show signs of avoidable pain or fear or exhibit abnormal behaviour.
  • Do not suffer from prolonged withdrawal of feed or water.
  • Are prevented from avoidable interaction with other animals that could harm their welfare.

Regulation 1099/2009 goes on to establish a framework for business operators to work within to ensure that these requirements are met; these requirements are all directly applicable in every Member State. However, although there is an element of prescription, the Regulation provides a measure of flexibility for business operators to determine how these requirements are met at an individual business level through Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

There is little difference in the overarching welfare outcomes that business operators must achieve in relation to those activities where both Regulation 1099/2009 and WASK apply. However, Regulation 1099/2009 raises the standard of some of the existing welfare outcomes required and adds new overarching welfare outcomes. As a result the Regulation requires a slightly higher standard of welfare to be achieved overall than WASK but allows more flexibility in how that is achieved. In its final form, Regulation 1099/2009 will introduce improved welfare protection in all Member States in a number of areas.

Regulation 1099/2009 introduces the following directly applicable obligations from 1st January 2013:

  • Scope: Scope widened to include animals bred for production. And the slaughterhouse definition altered and linked to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin.
  • Slaughter for religious purposes: Ensure all animals slaughtered in accordance with religious rites are individually restrained. And ensure ruminants slaughtered in accordance with religious rites are mechanically restrained.
  • Scientific advice: National reference centre replaced by the need to ensure independent scientific support is provided.
  • Enforcement: Non compliance provisions strengthened to allow competent authority to require changes to Standard Operating Procedures.
  • Guides to Good Practice: Develop and disseminate Guides to Good Practice.
  • Restraint (see below)
  • Certificates of Competence (see below)
  • Animal Welfare Officer (see below)
  • Operational practices (see below)
  • Stunning (see below)

Member States have no discretion over the introduction of the directly applicable elements of Regulation 1099/2009 and this consultation will not address them.

Where the Regulation sets lower standards than those currently applying in individual member states, Regulation 1099/2009 allows national rules to be used to maintain national levels of animal welfare protection existing when the Regulation came into force in 2009. In addition it allows the introduction of new stricter national rules to improve welfare protection given to animals killed outside a slaughterhouse, farmed game and animals killed without prior stunning for religious purposes.

Certificates of Competence

Information on this issue:

  • Two step approach introduced with a requirement to undergo training and assessment in specific areas related to the work being undertaken by a body free from any conflict of interest and to exchange the resulting qualification certificate for a Certificate of Competence.
  • Provision for issuing Temporary Certificates of Competence to allow trainees to work under supervision.
  • No time limit on validity of Certificate of Competence.
  • Ensure bodies given delegated authority to issue a Certificate of Competence have the necessary expertise, staff and equipment.
  • Establish a simplified approach to issue of Certificates of Competence, over the period to 8 December 2015, to staff with three or more years relevant professional experience.

Animal Welfare Officer

Information on this issue:

  • Designate an Animal Welfare Officer for every slaughterhouse above a minimum size.
  • Role of Animal Welfare officer redefined and must record action taken to improve welfare.
  • Ensure every Animal Welfare Officer holds a Certificate of Competence for every activity for which he/she is responsible.

Management practices

Information on this issue:

  • Any business operator carrying out killing and related operations falling under the scope of 1099/2009 must draw up and implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
  • Must ensure all persons working with live animals (including lairage staff and live poultry hangers) in a slaughterhouse hold a Regulation 1099/2009-compliant Certificate of Competence.
  • Manufacturers must provide instructions for the use of restraining and stunning equipment.
  • Introduce and implement monitoring procedures in slaughterhouses.
  • Derogation for depopulation reporting where welfare covered by Animal Disease notification System.

Operational practices

Information on this issue:

  • Pens in the lairage should have a sign showing time of arrival and maximum number of animals.
  • Electric stimulation can be performed once unconsciousness has been verified.
  • Must ensure equipment is maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and a record is maintained.
  • Prohibit the use of cervical dislocation and concussion for the routine slaughter poultry and restrict its use for slaughter under other situations.
  • Cervical dislocation limit increased to 70 birds per day where mechanical device used.
  • Lines used to shackle live poultry must incorporate breast comforters. (applies to existing slaughterhouses from 8 December 2019).
  • Ensure birds are not be suspended live for more than: chickens, 1 minute; ducks, geese and turkeys, 2 minutes. (applies to existing slaughterhouses from 8 December 2019).

Stunning

Information on this issue:

  • Simple stunning concept introduced where the stunning method used does not result in instantaneous death.
  • Additional stunning checks introduced with a derogation for reliable methods.
  • Percussive blow included as a permitted stunning method.
  • Restrict the use of non penetrative captive bolt to animals of 10 Kg.
  • Prohibit the use of decapitation as a method of stunning.
  • Use of biphasic CO2 and CO2 plus inert gases incorporated.
  • Gas stunning methodology amended to incorporate use of Containerised Gassing Units.
  • Constant current only required for automatic equipment associated with restrainers (Excluding poultry).
  • Constant current requirement for waterbaths removed.
  • Use specific currents and frequencies to stun poultry in an electric waterbath and head only stunning of named animals.
  • Ensure automatic stunning equipment deliver a constant current. (applies to existing slaughterhouses from 8 December 2019).
  • Ensure electrical and gas stunning equipment is fitted with a device to record key parameters and keep records for one year. (applies to existing slaughterhouses from 8 December 2019)

Restraint

Information on this issue:

  • Instructions for use of restraining and stunning equipment to be published on the internet.
  • Instructions to cover maintenance and operators to maintain a record of maintenance.
  • Animal must not be restrained unless operator is ready to stun or bleed.

Enforcement

Regulation 1099/2009 is directly applicable in Member States law. However, to ensure that business operators comply with the obligations of Regulation 1099/2009 it is necessary for Member States to make domestic regulations to establish an effective enforcement regime with proportionate, dissuasive and effective penalties and sanctions. In addition it will be necessary to ensure that arrangements are in place to implement those aspects of Regulation 1099/2009 which require Member State or competent authority input. These involve the requirement to:

  • Encourage development of, and assess, Guides to Good Practice.
  • Develop an action plan to ensure compliance with Regulation 1099/2009 during depopulation (i.e. disease control) activities.
  • Ensure sufficient independent scientific support is available.
  • Establish arrangements for issuing Certificates of Competence.

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