86% Of Pigs Slaughtered Using 'Inhumane' CO2 In England And Wales

New data from the Food Standards Agency shows a staggering number of animals killed using the gas - which campaigners describe as an 'unacceptable' method of slaughter
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Pigs on a factory farm

CO2 slaughter is agonizing, say campaigners (Photo: Compassion In World Farming)

A staggering 86 percent of pigs slaughtered in England and Wales are killed using CO2, according to new data from the government's Food Standards Agency

The data is based on a survey the Food Standards Agency (FSA) carried out at all slaughterhouses operating in England and Wales during the period of January 29 2018 to February 4 2018 inclusive, on behalf of Defra and the Welsh Government.

"The survey was completed by the Official Veterinarians (OVs) based at the slaughterhouses, using the information they were able to acquire from the Food Business Operator (FBO)," says the report. "There was a 100 percent return rate from all plants slaughtering the animals discussed in this report either in the form of a response or a nil return indicating that the plant was not in operation during the week of the survey."

Inhumane slaughter

Now campaigners are calling on Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to 'work with the pig industry to fully fund research into alternative slaughter methods and to end the use of CO2 for pig slaughter as a priority'.

Although pig industry leaders have claimed it is a 'humane' method of killing animals, animal welfare organization Compassion In World Farming (CIWF) - among other organizations - has branded it 'unsuitable'.

"Despite numerous reports, dating back over three decades, highlighting that CO2 is an inhumane method for stunning and slaughtering pigs, the pig industry has dragged its heels over implementing more humane slaughter methods," says CIWF.

"And Michael Gove's department, Defra, has a leisurely target of 2020 for reviewing more humane alternatives. This method involves lowering pigs into a CO2 chamber, where they panic, fight for breath and eventually suffocate. It can take as long as 60 seconds for them to lose consciousness. CO2 is unsuitable as a method of slaughter for pigs, and alternative solutions must be found as soon as possible in order that its use stops."