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Animal welfare risks during the pre- and slaughter period

There is growing concern amongst consumers that the meat they buy should come from animals bred, reared, handled and slaughtered in ways that are sympathetic to their welfare.
In western European countries good animal welfare is generally considered desirable for its own sake and EU legislation is enacted to promote this. Additionally, aspects of ethical quality, such as animal welfare are often incorporated into quality assurance schemes.

Legislation and quality assurance schemes are effective mechanisms protecting animal welfare. However, showing that good welfare also leads to better product quality is a powerful additional commercial incentive to enhance the way we rear, handle and slaughter animals. Recent reports concerning animal welfare during transport and at the time of slaughter in Greece indicate that corrective actions should be taken in particular to supervise and monitor transportation, resting and stunning of animals. In the ante mortem period good welfare usually results from careful handling of animals where stress and trauma are reduced. In contrast, poor ante mortem handling leads to stress, trauma, and results in poorer meat quality. New management practices taking into account animal welfare during pre-slaughter, stunning and bleeding (fasting, loading, transport, unloading, lairage and stunning system, bleeding method) must be adopted in order to limit animal stress from farm to slaughter. Some of these practices to be implemented are discussed.
Apart from the animal welfare issue, the lack of adequate preparation of pigs on farm (fasting), the use of poor handling systems throughout the pre-slaughter period and the inadequate stunning and/or bleeding also lead to carcass depreciation and meat quality defects (PSE, DFD meat) which result in great economic losses for the industry. Both PSE and DFD meat have poor technological properties, appearance and eating quality resulting in reduced acceptability by consumers.

S. B. Ramantanis, F. N. Mantis
Technological Educational Institution (T.E.I.) of Athens, Greece
E. N. Sossidou
National Agricultural Research Foundation (N.AG.RE.F.), Greece
A. Tserveni-Goussi
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece


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