A review of the scientific knowledge pertaining to the welfare risks that prevail during the slaughter of cattle and sheep was undertaken in conjunction with a comparative evaluation of different national and international standards or codes relevant to the management of these welfare risks. There was good alignment between current scientific knowledge underpinning the relevant welfare standards and codes. There were no major deficiencies in the scientific knowledge but further research to minimise the risk of prolonged loss of consciousness following slaughter without stunning was recommended.
The standards and guidelines reviewed present a range of requirements or recommendations to industry, in a variety of formats. In terms of managing animal welfare risks within an international supply chain, significant differences can exist between the social and cultural expectations of the communities involved, and therefore, moral and ethical judgements in the absence of underpinning science are difficult to make. Furthermore, implementing standards across a supply chain encompassing a number of different regulatory frameworks is fraught with difficulty. In developing an animal welfare management system for an inter-community supply chain, it is likely that no single existing standard or guideline meets these criteria, and it is suggested that any management system developed incorporates appropriate components from a variety of standards.