Protection of animals at the time of killing

Table of Contents:

Protection of animals at the time of killing

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of animals at the time of killing


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Food safety > Animal welfare

Protection of animals at the time of killing


Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 of 24 September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing.


This Regulation establishes rules applicable to the killing of animals kept for the production of food, wool, skin, fur, etc. It also lays down rules applicable to killing in emergencies and for the control of contagious diseases.

The rules established by this Regulation do not apply to animals killed as part of scientific experiments, hunting, cultural or sporting events and euthanasia practiced by a veterinarian, nor to poultry or rabbits killed for personal consumption.

Integration of animal welfare

This Regulation introduces standard operating procedures * for the welfare of animals at slaughter. Each operator * is responsible for establishing and applying these operating procedures in order to spare animals for slaughter as much pain, distress or suffering as possible.

In this context, operators should evaluate the efficiency of their stunning methods * using indicators based on the animals. Regular monitoring will ensure in particular that stunned animals do not regain consciousness before slaughter.

Manufacturers of restraining and stunning equipment should sell their equipment with instructions giving details in particular of the types of animals concerned and information on optimal use. Users must comply with manufacturers’ recommendations.

Moreover, an Animal Welfare Officer shall be appointed by the operator in each slaughterhouse. The Animal Welfare Officer is responsible for ensuring that the provisions of this Regulation are complied with. Small slaughterhouses shall be granted a derogation from this obligation.

Improving personnel competence

Slaughterhouse personnel dealing with live animals should possess a certificate of competence attesting that they have sufficient knowledge concerning animal welfare. The issue of the said certificate shall be subject to independent examination by an accredited body.

This Regulation also provides that Member States put in place a system of scientific support. This support will provide technical assistance for slaughterhouse inspection personnel as well as scientific assessments of new stunning equipment and new slaughterhouses. In addition, they shall be responsible for providing opinions on the capacity and suitability of the bodies which deliver the certificates of competence concerning animal welfare.


Emergency plans required by Community regulations on animal health (control of contagious diseases) should give details of the logistics procedures for slaughter in order to ensure that animal welfare is taken into account. Derogations to the said regulations will be granted when compliance with the provisions may have implications for human health or slow down the eradication of the disease. Furthermore, this Regulation improves the planning, monitoring, producing reports and the transparency of killing methods in the case of depopulation.

Technical requirements

A list of stunning methods shall be established in the Annex to the Regulation and shall describe the rules relating to and the context for the authorised use of each method. These methods should accompany scientific progress and take socio-economic questions into consideration. Moreover, technical changes could affect the construction, layout and equipment of slaughterhouses.


This Regulation is also consistent with the Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals that introduced the concept of animal welfare indicators.

This Regulation will replace Directive 93/119/EC on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing, which has never been amended despite scientific and technical developments.

Key terms of the Act
  • Standard operating procedures: a set of written instructions aimed at achieving uniformity of the performance of a specific function or standard.
  • Operator: any natural or legal person responsible for an undertaking which carries out activities covered by this Regulation.
  • Stunning: any intentionally induced process which causes loss of consciousness and sensibility without pain, including any process resulting in instantaneous death.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009


OJ L 303 of 18.11.2009

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