International production standards for beef cattle must lead to EU action to improve cow welfare
Posted on 23/05/2012
At its meeting in Paris today the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) adopted recommendations for the welfare of beef cattle, Eurogroup urges the European Union to follow suit and propose EU rules to protect cattle as a matter of urgency. The production of beef is currently not regulated at EU level despite clear scientific evidence that significant welfare problems exist.
The EU’s own scientific agency, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), in a report published last week highlighted once again the numerous welfare risks that exist in current beef production systems. These include diseases linked to overcrowding, digestive disorders, injuries due to slatted concrete floors, painful mutilations such as castration and dehorning.
Eurogroup for Animals calls on the European Commission to consider the recommendations made in the EFSA report and use these to strengthen the OIE text which is not in line with scientific evidence and allows the use of fully slatted floors and the permanent tethering of cows.
“It is not acceptable for the European Union to leave cows in the cold without any rules to protect them. We consume steak and burgers without any assurance that the animals used to produce them have been treated properly. Without our own EU-wide standards we are in a very weak negotiating position to demand equivalence for the increasing amounts of imported meat coming from countries such as Brazil or Argentina,” stated Sonja Van Tichelen, Director of Eurogroup for Animals.
“The European Commission can no longer bury its head in the sand. The Council of Europe produced Recommendations for the keeping of cattle as far back as 1988 and still they have not been transposed into EU law. The OIE has now put further pressure on the EU and action must now be taken,”she concluded.