EFSA released new guidance
The new draft guidance from the European Food Safety Authority aims to simplify how to compile applications and advises on what data is needed to demonstrate that a new stunning method provides as much care to livestock as existing systems. The guidance is detailed and noted the EFSA draft, aims to give advice on an important subject - stunning methods – about which there can be inadequate knowledge. They are rarely subject to fundamental research due to limited budget for such activities, the agency said. This can be a problem, which stressed that guidance and requirements have to be proportionate to the issue at stake. The new guidance was developed after 2016 European Union assessments of a proposed stunning system for poultry, based on low atmospheric pressure, which sparked conclusions that the system needed to be reviewed and refined.
Changes were needed regarding the rules for an assessment phase 1 where the EFSA AHAW Panel assesses applicant data against whether the stunning method causes immediate unconsciousness; the absence of avoidable pain, distress and suffering until loss of consciousness; and the duration of unconsciousness until death. Under the system planned by EFSA, applicants should also propose methodologies and evidence that can enable agency experts to check whether these new slaughtering methods provide as much welfare to livestock as existing stunning methods.
Assuming these checks go well, the AHAW panel then holds a phase 2 study, which focuses on the animal welfare risk assessment. Here again, EFSA is calling for change, saying further steps needed to ascertain the equivalence to the existing stunning methods. Both these assessments are preceded by applicants having to provide two or more studies. These applications are initially assessed by EFSA to ensure there is a complete set of data enabling a reliable risk assessment of the stunning method – more information can be demanded if necessary. The results of all these checks will continue to be published in a scientific opinion, which can be considered by the European Commission before it grants or refuses permission to use the system under EU Regulation (EC) No 1099/20091 on the protection of animals at the time of killing.