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In Australia, the killing of animals for food, fibre and other animal products (referred to as ‘slaughter’) is underpinned by the Australian standard for the hygienic production and transport of meat and meat products for human consumption. As the title suggests, the main objective of the standard is to ensure food safety, however, it also includes an animal welfare component.
Recognising the importance of animal welfare at processing, the Australian meat industry has gone a step further and developed its own National animal welfare standards for livestock processing establishments. By incorporating these standards into their quality assurance program (and standard operating procedures), abattoirs are able to demonstrate (to the state meat authority) that they meet regulatory requirements as well as good practice in terms of animal care and welfare.
The industry standards cover six important areas that influence animal welfare at processing. These are:
Standard procedures at Australian abattoirs are designed to hold and move animals throughout the facility in a calm, quiet and ‘low stress’ manner. Just prior to slaughter, animals are very briefly restrained and then stunned with minimal stress. An operator confirms that each animal is unconscious and will be insensible to pain when the major blood vessels are severed shortly afterwards. The animal does not regain consciousness and no further processing takes place until the animal is confirmed dead.
For further information, see:
Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production and Transportation of Meat and Meat Products for Human Consumption