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Legislation in force animal welfare at slaughter

Council Directive 93/119/EEC sets out requirements applicable both to slaughter in slaughterhouses and killing authorised outside slaughterhouses, such as killing for disease control, fur animals, etc.

As a general rule, animals must be spared any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering during movement, lairaging, restraint, stunning, slaughter or killing. Slaughterhouses must be built and equipped in respect of this rule. Staff employed for slaughtering must possess the necessary skill, ability and professional knowledge. Animals must be stunned before slaughter or killed instantaneously.

Slaughter and killing outside slaughterhouses is restricted to a very limited number of circumstances, such as disease control, fur animals, hatchery waste. Approved slaughter or killing methods must be used in all circumstances.

Meat intended for human consumption must come from approved slaughterhouses.

Under Directive 93/119/EEC Member States retain the right to authorise religious slaughter without prestunning in their own territory. The Directive leaves the responsibility for the respect of religious slaughtering rules with the religious authority, but places the responsibility for the enforcement of its general legal requirements directive with the official veterinary authorities. It further requires that animals slaughtered in accordance with religious rites shall be spared any avoidable suffering, pain or excitement during all stages of the slaughter process, and that a mechanical form of restraint be used to prevent injury when the animal is killed.

The slaughter of certain game species, principally for meat hygiene purposes, is regulated under Council Directive 92/45/EEC.