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Humane stunning and slaughter of food animals and post-cut management


Stunning of food animals is a slaughter activity that in general carries a high animal welfare risk associated with it, even under the most ideal conditions.

Stunning failures can result in extreme suffering for the food animal because of the risk for pain and distress associated with certain methods of stunning when they fail to render the animal unconscious when they should, either instantly or rapidly, depending on the method used. There is also the associated risk with a failure to stun correctly that dressing procedures are carried out on a still conscious animal.

Therefore, highly effective preventive measures must always be implemented for stunning, including any conditions that affect the stunning, such as the establishment restraint and stunning equipment, establishment construction, layout and conditions and specific management practices, any of which could adversely affect stunning when not done correctly.

After stunning, the food animal must be unconscious or dead before suspending it. Poultry may be shackled, in the conscious state for stunning, although this allowance does not apply to ostriches, emus and rheas which, because of their large size, are slaughtered differently.

If the licence holder chooses to stun the food animal prior to ritual slaughter, then the regulatory requirements for humane stunning apply fully in this case, in accordance with the act and regulations governing humane slaughter.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand these requirements, specific criteria and examples are outlined below. The examples are not exhaustive but help illustrate the intent of the requirement and offer ideas on what you could do to comply. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) glossary.

Section 141: Requirement before bleeding


Section: 142, 143 (1) Requirements after bleeding starts and before suspension


Subsection: 143 (2) Exception – certain birds


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