Ritual slaughter and animal welfare

12 April 2012 E-003775/2012 Cristiana Muscardini (PPE)

Last year in the Netherlands, a measure was adopted, tabled by both the government and the opposition, which bans the slaughter of animals using ritual methods that exclude the use of anaesthetics or stunning systems. A similar ban has also been in force for some time in other European countries, such as Sweden and Austria, whereas in other Member States, such as Italy, the law tolerates ritual slaughter. The law, tabled by a cross-party group, has ignited the debate between the defenders of animal rights and the defenders of religious freedom.

1. Considering the protocol annexed to the EC treaty on the protection and welfare of animals, and taking into account the need to respect religious rites and cultural traditions, does the Commission not believe that animals should nevertheless be stunned prior to slaughter? Does it also not believe that failing to implement the protocol, in addition to failing to respect the rights of animals, leads to an exacerbation of the differences between the various countries and different cultures?

2. Does it believe that the Dialrel research has produced positive results with regard to allowing the interests of animals to prevail when slaughtered?

3. Does it not believe that legislation is required which applies in all the Member States of the EU and which approves measures concerning ritual slaughter?

4. Is it aware of the health consequences for people who consume meat from animals that have been exposed to enormous rushes of adrenaline?


11 June 2012
Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission

1. The Commission considers that the EU provisions on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing(1)which grant derogation from stunning in case of religious slaughter respect both animal welfare in accordance with Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and the freedom of religion enshrined in Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

2. The DIALREL research project has contributed to make progress in the field of ritual slaughter in particular by establishing a dialogue between stakeholders. The Commission has publicised these results to the Member States.

3. Given the amount of discretion left to the Member States in this area(2) the Commission is of the opinion that the application of best practices could hardly be imposed on the Member States on the grounds of the existing legislation. The Commission however plans to present in 2014 guidelines for the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 where it could include recommendations on the derogation from stunning.

4. Stress experienced by animals shortly before or during slaughter may result in abnormal meat quality with associated reduced shelf life, but does not affect the safety of the meat.

(1) Directive 93/119/EEC (OJ L 340, 31.12.1993) and as from 1.1.2013 Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 (OJ L 303, 18.11.2009).
(2) In particular in the light of the wording of Recital 18 of Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009.