Government ‘must commit to improving welfare of animals at slaughter’, say vets

PUBLISHED: 09:40 23 February 2021 | UPDATED: 09:40 23 February 2021

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the Review of the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) Regulations (WATOK), but called on the government to commit to making the improvements outlined in the report.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the Review of the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) Regulations (WATOK), but called on the government to commit to making the improvements outlined in the report.

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“It’s clear there is room for improvement... [and] we’re concerned that the publication of the review did not include a commitment to action”

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the Review of the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) Regulations (WATOK), but called on the government to commit to making the improvements outlined in the report.

The post-implementation review of England’s WATOK regulations, published by Defra in January, recognised several policy recommendations proposed by BVA, including specifying that all electrical-waterbath stunning of poultry should be carried out in accordance with the minimum currents laid down in Annex I of EC 1099/2009; the urgent need for research to develop non-aversive stunning methods in pigs; the urgent need for research into the development of recoverable stunning methods that effectively stun birds of all sizes, strains, and ages, and remove the need for live shackling and inversion pre-slaughter; and improved regulation of non-stun slaughter so that supply meets demand and clearer labelling for consumers.

Commenting on the review, BVA president James Russell said: “It is critically important that we have evidence-based legislation in place so that slaughter processes result in a humane death for animals, that minimises avoidable pain, distress, fear, and suffering.

“But it’s clear there is room for improvement... [and] we’re concerned that the publication of the review did not include a commitment to action. The next step must be for the Government to demonstrate its intentions to be a world leader in animal welfare across the board by implementing the recommendations, which are supported by vets, animal welfare experts, and industry.”

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