In Italy, there are many livestock farms, a large variety of cattle and companies making up the meat chain – but they are all quite different. A professional who knows exactly how to recognize special features and differences, and then make the most of them to enhance value, it is very important figure – especially in terms of better food safety and hygiene, with benefits for producers and consumers alike.
How do bio-ethics fit into this context? We spoke with Alfonso Camassa, a consultant for companies in the meat chain as a whole and a recent graduate in veterinary medicine, who explained to Eurocarne Post his ideas about bio-ethics in slaughtering processes.
Dr Camassa: How did the need to address this issue come about and what is its current status?
“For a variety of social reasons and changes in consumption, today there is much more talk about slaughtering, often with negative overtones, focusing on mistreatment of animals. There is a great deal of misinformation in this regard, especially among consumers, and my ideas are aimed at them: trade associations and students are my target audience, since EU and national regulations in this field are (or should be) already known to all stakeholders in the sector”.
What was the starting point?
“EC Regulation 1099 is the basis for European legislation concerning the 'protection of animals during slaughter', which introduces structural and procedural guidelines for correct slaughtering of livestock animals in full respect of them. It is a question of ethics and quality, which is vital for players in the supply chain and consumers alike: if the animal is slaughtered in full compliance with the hygiene and safety regulations, applying procedures that avoid stress, meat will also be better as a result. EC regulation 1099 also introduces the obligation to identify a person responsible for the protection of animal welfare in facilities where more than a thousand animals are slaughtered annually. First and foremost, It is counterproductive for producers not to comply with these regulations.
I have devised a scoring from 1 to 5 to be applied in each stage of the process: from unloading the animal through to draining blood. The aim is to provide a rating (poor, mediocre, sufficient, good and very good) as to how the slaughtering centre meets regulatory requirements. This provides a useful tool for producers, who can understand what needs to be improved in the process, as well as consumers, who are informed of the efficiency and regulatory status of the process. We want to move towards cruelty free slaughtering that is as humane as possible”.
In your experience as a consultant, what are the requirements most in demand among companies?
“The selection of livestock for business is a very geo-influenced activity: requirements may change not only in relation to companies, but also where they are located. Consistency over the weeks is very much in demand: companies want to have products that are as homogeneous as possible (same stable, same muscle structure, amount of fat, a given weight range). A factor that varies by region is the fattening status required: in the North, for example, there is a higher consumption of prime cuts with lean meat, while in the South second cuts are more popular from fatter animals. Another aspect that varies even more subjectively, not only on a regional scale but also within local areas, is the preference between male or female livestock”.
Source: Eurocarne Outlook