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Promising news for Europe’s pigs

News Section Icon Published 13/11/2020

Group of pigs outside at sunset

The EU is currently the biggest exporter of pig meat in the world, and so it is crucial that these animals are stunned and killed painlessly. We are therefore delighted to report that yesterday (12th November), the European Parliament voted to fund a research project aimed at finding alternatives to the high-concentration CO2 killing of pigs. We fully welcome this vote that could end this cruel practice across the EU.

Pain and panic

The slaughter method in question involves lowering pigs into a gas chamber containing CO2, causing them to gasp for breath and hyperventilate, causing pain and panic amongst the terrified animals. The gas acidifies their eyes, nostrils, mouths and lungs, meaning the animals feel like they are burning from the inside out for 15-60 seconds or more.

This was recently confirmed by the latest EFSA opinion on the welfare of pigs at slaughter, which concluded that “There are no preventive or corrective measures to the pain, fear and respiratory distress caused by the exposure to high CO2 concentrations as this is inherent to the stunning method. The only way to prevent the hazard related to exposure to high CO2 concentrations is to use other gas mixtures like inert gasses or mixture of inert gases containing low CO2 concentrations”.

Alternative slaughter methods

In 2019, Eurogroup for Animals published a position paper urging the European Commission to fund research into alternatives, with a view to phasing out the CO2 killing method by 1st January 2025.

Our Global Director of Campaigns, Sean Gifford, says: “As the most common and yet most cruel method of slaughtering pigs in the EU, we urgently need an alternative to the aversive CO2 killing of pigs.

“There are more humane and financially viable slaughter methods that could and should be used on a commercial scale. This step by the European Parliament gives us real hope that we can find painless alternatives and finally ban the use of high-concentration CO2 killing of pigs.”

Read more from our Global CEO.


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