EU funding vital to cushion extra animal welfare costs, say meat processors

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Europe’s meat processors will suffer unless the European Commission meets extra costs resulting from a new regulation on improving animal welfare at slaughter, said an industry body.

Clitravi, the Liaison Centre for the Meat Processing Industry in the European Union, has urged Commission chiefs to abide by a parliament recommendation to meet the added financial burden arising from the law due to come into force at the start of 2013.

New welfare rules

The regulation is designed to increase the responsibility of operators for the welfare of the 360 million animals slaughtered in the region annually and will lead to a series of practical measures to ensure humane treatment.

Slaughterhouses will have to appoint an animal welfare officer and ensure staff are properly trained and certified. Each operator will need to develop standard operating procedures regarding animal welfare, with processors obliged to evaluate the efficiency of their stunning methods. After stunning, animals will have to be monitored regularly to ensure they do not regain consciousness before slaughter.

The Commission has backed the plan with health commissioner Androulla Vassiliou saying it would “make a real difference to the way animals are treated at the time of slaughter”.

Subsidies key

Enrico Frabretti, Clitravi deputy secretary general, told “We understand from an animal welfare and consumer point of view the necessity for this regulation. We want to provide consumers with what they want in terms of quality and welfare. But we have to remain competitive and it is therefore vital the Commission comes up with the funding.”

Fabretti said no estimates of these costs had yet been produced but backed a Parliament statement which said there was “the need to provide adequate EU funding for European

producers in order to compensate for the competitive disadvantage they would suffer”.

Producers from outside the EU that wish to export meat into the bloc will also have to meet the new requirements. However, Clitravi said enforcement of the new welfare rules by authorities in third countries was imperative.

“Enforcement in third countries must be effective, otherwise European producers will face distortion of competition,”​ he warned.

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