Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Chief Science and Strategy Officer, Dr Bidda Jones, to find out more about how farm animals are killed for food in Australia.
In Australia, the killing of animals for food, fibre and other animal products (referred to as ‘slaughter’) is underpinned by minimal provisions in the Australian standard for the hygienic production and transport of meat and meat products for human consumption. The main objective of the standard is to ensure food safety, however, it also includes an animal welfare component.
RSPCA Australia defines humane killing as when an animal is either killed instantly or instantaneously rendered insensible to pain until it dies.
The Australian meat industry has 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 better practice in terms of animal care and welfare.
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 restrained and then stunned (rendered unconscious).
Pre-slaughter stunning is scientifically recognised as essential for humane slaughter. Stunning ensures the animal is unconscious and insensible to pain before being bled out at slaughter.
An operator should then confirm that each animal is unconscious and will be insensible to pain when the major blood vessels are severed shortly afterwards. The animal should not regain consciousness and no further processing should take place until the animal is confirmed dead.
- The process of how farm animals are killed for food in Australia
- What the legislation covers and how abattoirs operate
- What stunning is and why it is important
- Consumer questions around religious slaughter in Australia