Events at the European Union level
MEPs set out clearer and more consistent food labelling rules
Food safety - 16-06-2010 - 17:16 (European Parliament legislative resolution of 16 June 2010 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers (COM(2008)0040 – C6-0052/2008 – 2008/0028(COD)))
Extract from Press release
"Food labels should feature mandatory nutritional information and guideline daily amounts, according to draft EU legislation as adopted by MEPs on Wednesday. However, they rejected a proposal for 'traffic light' values to highlight the salt, sugar and fat content of processed foods.
Following a lively debate, MEPs voted for labelling rules that will enable consumers to make healthy, well-informed choices, while limiting as far as possible the administrative and financial burden on food businesses.
(....) Meat labels should indicate where the animal was born, reared and slaughtered, says Parliament. In addition, meat from slaughter without stunning (according to certain religious traditions) should be labelled as such.
Entry into force
The final vote in Parliament today was 559 in favour, 54 against and 32 abstentions. However, no quick agreement is expected with Council, so the draft legislation is likely to return to Parliament for a second reading. Once the legislation is adopted, food business will have three years to adapt to the rules. Smaller operators, with fewer than 100 employees and an annual turnover under €5 million, would have five years to comply."
Publication of the new slaughter Regulation in the European Official Journal
Extracts related to religious slaughter :
"Protocol No (33) underlines the need to respect the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating, in particular, to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage when formulating and implementing the Community’s policies on, inter alia, agriculture and the internal market. It is therefore appropriate to exclude from the scope of this Regulation cultural events, where compliance with animal welfare requirements would adversely affect the very nature of the event concerned."
"18 - Derogation from stunning in case of religious slaughter taking place in slaughterhouses was granted by Directive 93/119/EC. Since Community provisions applicable to religious slaughter have been transposed differently depending on national contexts and considering that national rules take into account dimensions that go beyond the purpose of this Regulation, it is important that derogation from stunning animals prior to slaughter should be maintained, leaving, however, a certain level of subsidiarity to each Member State. As a consequence, this Regulation respects the freedom of religion and the right to manifest religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, as enshrined in Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union."
"27.2 No later than 8 December 2012, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and to the Council a report on systems restraining bovine animals by inversion or any unnatural position. This report shall be based on the results of a scientific study comparing these systems to the ones maintaining bovines in the upright position and shall take into account animal welfare aspects as well as the socioeconomic implications, including their acceptability by the religious communities and the safety of operators."
The European Commission has now published on its website the feasibility study by Civic Consulting on Animal Welfare labelling (part 1) and the establishment of a Community reference centre for animal protection and welfare (part 2). Both parts of the study can be accessed via the following links:
* Animal Welfare labelling (part 1):
* Establishment of a Community reference centre for animal protection and welfare (part 2):
More information on the background of the study can be found under:http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/welfare/farm/labelling_en.htm
On 18th September 2008 the Commission made a proposal for a council regulation on the protection of animals at the time of killing aiming to replace the Council Directive 93/119/EEC
The Commission's proposal has been forwarded to the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers and will follow the consultation procedure(*), where the Council agrees on the final content of the text. The whole process could take up to 12 months. An additional 24 months transition period is given to stakeholders and Member States to adapt and comply with the new provisions. Measures requiring large investments have a longer transitional period (10 years).
New proposal for a Council Regulation on the protection of animals at the time of killing, Brussels, COM(2008) 553/3
1. What is new in this proposal?
Community legislation to protect animals at the time of killing already exists (Directive 93/119/EC) but is outdated in many respects. The Commission proposal contains several important changes:
This means that it is directly applicable, with no delays and no room for distortions. It facilitates a harmonised application in the EU and provides a level playing field for the operators concerned.
Each operator would have to know what they are doing through the use of a standard operating procedure. Such methodology is not new for slaughterhouses as it is already required and in place for food safety (the so-called HACCP system = Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point). But it is new to require standardized procedures for animal welfare.
Operators are required to evaluate the efficiency of their stunning method through animal based indicators. As a consequence, stunned animals will have to be regularly monitored to ensure that they do not regain consciousness before slaughter.
Each slaughterhouse will have to appoint an Animal Welfare Officer who will be accountable for implementing the animal welfare measures. This will not replace the official inspection and there will be a derogation for small slaughterhouses.
Furthermore, the proposal requires manufacturers of stunning equipment to provide instructions on the use of their equipment, on how to monitor their efficiency and keep them in order.
The proposal requires staff handling animals in slaughterhouses to possess a certificate of competence regarding the welfare aspects of their tasks. The certificate will be valid for a maximum of five years and submitted to independent examination by accredited bodies.
The proposal also aims at creating national centres of reference on animal welfare to provide technical support for officials working in slaughterhouses. Although there are some research centres in many Member States, the results of their research and their technical competence is not sufficiently available to official inspectors. As a result, inspectors have often difficulties in assessing complex stunning systems. The proposal will remedy this important issue.
Culling animals on a large scale is sometimes the only tool to control highly contagious diseases (such as avian influenza or foot and mouth disease). As this affects public spending (and often the Community budget), the proposal aims at making the competent authority performing such killing more accountable to the public regarding the welfare of the animals culled. In particular, the proposal provides for better planning, supervision and reporting. Use of animal welfare unfriendly methods of killing will no longer be allowed except under exceptional circumstances (such as to protect human health or in case of an uncontrollable animal disease).
The proposal introduces many technical changes.
For example, the scope of stunning or killing methods is more strictly defined, and minimum electrical parameters are provided. Another example is when gas stunning is used for birds – it has to be irreversible.
A number of technical changes will concern the construction, layout and equipment of slaughterhouses such as the lairage facilities or the electrical stunning equipment.
2. Does the proposal affect all slaughtered animals in the EU?
No, but the large majority of them are covered.
The proposal concerns the killing of animals in slaughterhouses as well as those kept for farming purposes. This includes the killing of fur animals, of male day-old chicks (of laying hens breeds) or other killing taking place in farms. In particular it concerns the killing for disease control purposes (as occurred, for example, in the UK for the control of Foot and Mouth Disease).
Animals killed due to, or following, scientific experiments are covered by a specific Directive presently also under revision.
Animals killed under other circumstances (hunting, bullfighting, stray dogs or cats in shelters, animals in the wild, etc.) are not part of the scope of this proposal. Those areas are covered by national legislation and Community competences are either limited (hunting) or excluded.
3. How many animals are concerned?
Every year nearly 360 million pigs, sheep, goats and cattle as well as several billion poultry are killed in EU slaughterhouses.
The European fur industry adds another 25 million animals to the figure.
Hatcheries kill around 330 millions day-old-chicks.
The control of contagious diseases may also require the killing of thousands to millions of animals.
4. Does this proposal apply for third countries? How?
Yes, just as today.
The proposal requires slaughterhouses in third countries exporting meat to the EU to comply with similar standards to those in the proposal. This will ensure a level playing field for all slaughterhouses, within or outside the EU, establishing fair competition.
5. Does the proposal generate costs for companies? For Member States?
The Commission has performed an extensive impact assessment in order to evaluate the extent to which the measures proposed will affect companies and the Member States. This impact assessment is publicly available.
This impact assessment is based on a specific socio-economic study carried out by an external consultant. In addition, this proposal has taken into consideration a large consultation of all stakeholders and has been designed to minimize the possible costs.
For example, the requirement to appoint an Animal Welfare Officer is not obligatory for small slaughterhouses as such a measure would not be proportionate to the problem (proper coordination on animal welfare is not actually an issue in a small establishment). Other measures have been granted a transitional period for implementation to allow operators or Member States to adapt progressively. This is the case for the standards applicable to the design and fixed equipments of slaughterhouses and for the implementation of the certificate of competence applicable to staff in slaughterhouses.
However it should be underlined that a number of measures proposed here are already applied by some companies (on a voluntary basis) or by some Member States (as national legislation).
6. Does the proposal ban some stunning or killing methods?
The proposal does not ban any major method of stunning presently in use. However, it limits the possibility to use certain methods.
The Commission decided not to ban the use of the waterbath stunner for poultry despite its welfare disadvantages.
The use of carbon dioxide will be still permitted despite the scientists’ opinion on its aversiveness for animals.
The reason for maintaining the possibility to use those methods of stunning is the lack of practical alternatives under commercial conditions.
In the case of the waterbath for poultry, alternatives exist (use of gas) but are presently not developed for the small or medium size slaughterhouses, which represent a very important number of establishments in Europe.
Similarly the use of carbon dioxide can not be rejected at present as there is no commercially viable alternative for certain species like pig or fur animals. In addition, it is a still an important technique for the mass killing of poultry.
Source : European Commission, http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/welfare/slaughter/proposal_6_qanda_en.htm
(*) The consultation procedure
The consultation procedure is used in areas such as agriculture, taxation and competition. Based on a proposal from the Commission, the Council consults Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Parliament can: approve the Commission,proposal,reject it,or ask for amendments. If Parliament asks for amendments, the Commission will consider all the changes Parliament suggests. If it accepts any of these suggestions it will send the Council an amended proposal. The Council examines the amended proposal and either adopts it or amends it further. In this procedure, as in all others, if the Council amends a Commission proposal it must do so unanimously.
The European Commission Pre Lex.
The European Parliemane Legislative Observatory.