EU Report on Consumer Information about Stunning

In February 2015, a 111-page report submitted by the Food Chain Evaluation Consortium (FCEC) for the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Food Safety was published, entitled “Study on information to consumers on the stunning of animals.”

Covering 13,500 respondents (500 from each of the EU-27 member states), the report attempted to ascertain if meat products need labelling information on the method of slaughter, primarily whether stunned or un-stunned.

The report concluded. “Stakeholders agreed with the survey findings which suggest that there is little dissatisfaction with current labelling with regard to meat and meat products and little spontaneous demand for information related to animal welfare at slaughter. However, stakeholders pointed out that this is an important issue for a small number of relatively vocal consumers.”

The main concern is that meat from un-stunned slaughter is entering the secular food chain, thereby causing customers unknowingly to buy meat from un-stunned slaughter when they might prefer not to.

Respondents did not voluntarily suggest that slaughter method was an important criterion when purchasing meat, but when asked directly whether they would like to know more about slaughter methods, 72% expressed varying degrees of interest. 45% thought that there should be clarification on the labels.

The report’s conclusions continued, “Our conclusion is that for most consumers information on pre-slaughter stunning is not an important issue unless brought to their attention. However, this is an issue for a certain proportion of motivated consumers. It is by no means clear that consumers would actually act on this information if it were to be available. Our clear conclusion is that there is little accurate consumer understanding of the slaughter process.”

Should labelling be introduced, it will result in higher prices for religious groups which demand meat from un-stunned animals. There will also be a risk that these religious groups become stigmatised.”

The Full Report and the more digestible Executive Summary are available for download