Eyes on Animals participated in the “Open-Mind Workshop” hosted by Toennies Research Institute. The purpose was to discuss the search for a suitable alternative to CO2 to stun pigs prior to slaughter. More and more large pig slaughterhouses switched over from electric stunning to CO2 in the past 25 years. No more risk of blood spots, pigs could be stunned all at the same time in a group, it was more time efficient (more pigs could be killed per hour) and easier to move the animals. Some supermarkets, like Tesco, even made CO2 stunning systems mandatory for their suppliers. But sadly, CO2 does not bring about unconsciousness immediately. The pigs endure 15-30 seconds of extreme breathing stress and pain from inhalation.
Because the electric stunning system for large pig slaughterhouses at the time posed meat- quality and welfare concerns, there has recently been intensified research efforts for a non-aversive method to stun pigs using other gases or mixtures. Unfortunately, so far none of the tests in alternative gases or mixtures have proven successful. Research will continue, but things do not look that optimistic.
Eyes on Animals is continuing to insist that more effort be put into modernizing and improving the electric stunning systems. Electric stunning can render pigs unconscious immediately if done properly. By improving and drastically changing the problematic old way pigs were moved towards the electric stunners, maybe we can create a brand new electric system that causes less suffering and meat-quality issues than before, and also avoids the need to inhale CO2.
Crucial is that improvements be made now to both current stunning systems, and not just wait for a future better gas that may or may not work. As long as meat is being consumed, Eyes on Animals wants to help reduce the level of suffering that animals endure now. To learn more about electric and CO2 stunning, and see the differences, watch our film: