On 10 November 2020, a German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Marlene Mortler of the Group of the European People’s Party posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“Many animals spend their entire lives on pasture and are slaughtered there in a mobile unit, with none of the fear or stress associated with transport to an abattoir. Many family farms are battling passionately for this.
However, I am very concerned at a development that seems to be posing an existential threat to farms and destroying their efforts to improve animal welfare. This concerns amendment of EU Regulation 853/2004, providing for a reduction in both the number of animal species and the number of animals slaughtered, when a mobile unit is used, in order to limit on-farm slaughter and the use of mobile units.
- Is the Commission aware that this plan contradicts the European Green Deal and the Farm-to-Fork strategy, i.e., the scientifically proven concept of closed or regional circuits as called for by the EU?
- How can the Commission ensure that there continues to be skilled and regionally based mobile on-farm slaughtering and processing whilst ensuring the highest animal welfare and quality standards and the consumer transparency that has repeatedly been called for?
- What scope does the Commission see for making an innovative contribution to the debate on animal welfare and transport, and for strengthening the regionality of our food in line with the objectives of the Green Deal?”
On 8 January 2021, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “Mobile slaughterhouses, carrying out full slaughter and dressing of the animals, are and continue to be allowed without any limitation in the number of the animals that can be slaughtered.
In addition to such mobile slaughterhouses, the Commission is proposing a new possibility to slaughter at the farm by allowing stunning and bleeding of the animal at the farm, followed by immediate transport of the bled animals to a slaughterhouse. This proposed revision of Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 is thus fully in line with the Farm to Fork Strategy approach as it tries to avoid stress to animals during transport. In order to ensure the hygienic and timely transport of these animals to the slaughterhouse, the number of animals slaughtered at the same occasion, has been limited.
Present slaughter possibilities are thus not limited, but on the contrary expanded, contributing further to animal welfare while maintaining food safety.
This Commission’s initiative enhances animal welfare related to transport and strengthens the regionality of the food supply in line with the objectives of the Green Deal. Furthermore, under the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Commission will revise the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals by 2023. This includes the current rules on animal transport and slaughter. In this exercise, the sustainability of the entire agri-food system — including a reflection on shorter supply chains — will be carefully considered and assessed.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/ireland-sheep-lambs-livestock-1985088/