If the gondola carrys pigs, they do not sail contemplative, accompanied by the song of a gondolier on the Grand Canal, no, they go straight to hell, to hell for bristle cattle. At least, it is seen by activists from the animal rights group Peta. It is undisputed: 59.3 million * pigs are slaughtered each year with us, most of them using a process in which the animals are first anesthetized with CO2. At around 300 days a year – Sundays are stationary conveyor belts – Send slaughterhouses which use this method, a total of about 40 million pigs in metal cages, called gondolas, in the carbon dioxide-shaft to the last “impotence” before her death. Even people who continue to eat meat with a clear conscience, must live with the knowledge that the animals are introduced as mass-industrially to death. * Source: Federal Statistical Office of Germany
Peta press criminal charges in nine states against 25 pig slaughterhouses which stun with CO2 in Germany. Peta wants the process now basically put at a stop and has placed a complaint against a total of 25 slaughterhouse operations in 18 prosecutors: “They are all CO2 stunner, the animals are unnecessary suffering Add” said Sophie Nouvertné, lawyer for Peta Germany. “They violate all, in our view, against the law, section 17 of the Animal Welfare Act.”
Now you can take the goals of Peta, not only, as the English club name suggests, the “Ethical Treatment of Animals” arguing, but consider the complete renunciation of the consumption of meat and veganism, for radical; you might not like some of their methods. A certain tailwind for their complaint but found the animal rights animal welfare report of the Federal Government at the end of 2015. It states: “According to estimates of the Max Rubner Institute (MRI) two thirds of German pigs are anesthetized before slaughter with carbon dioxide (CO2). The main advantage lies in an efficient Group stunning with little manpower. The CO2 stunning is criticized because the anesthetic does not take place immediately and show the animals at the initiation of respiratory distress symptoms and a strong defensive behavior “The report also notes:”.. However, There are no practicable alternatives available – “Really?
On the Peta list are all relevant industrial slaughterhouses in Germany which hold the activists for CO2 users. They seem to want to pull everything to court, which belong to the Meat-Industry-circles of distinction. Clemens Toennies, even with his business; in the German slaughterhouses ranking the Toennies Group, still a family-company, at number one. “Toennies slaughters every fourth pig,” they say in the syndicate Pig business club ISN. Killing runs at the butcher king from like all other in its class, only more sophisticated in terms of animal welfare, and considerably richer, bigger.
Site visit in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, a county town with half-timbered character in North Rhine-Westphalia; It is the hometown of Clemens Toennies and headquarters of his battle-empire – the ‘flag-ship’. Toennies shows his pride: “In 1992 we took this establishment grid with then 16000 square meters of production space, today Toennies Rheda has a constructed production area of 165,000 square meters, making it the largest meat business company worldwide,” the entrepreneur says early last week at the annual press conference of his company included factory Tour. The plant is located in the so-called German “pig Belt”; Here live more pigs than people. So it is no surprise that the abattoir is well utilized. The mostly about six months old future ham donors come to 85 percent from Germany, the remaining 15 percent from the rest of the EU here.
Every day up to 200 trucks with up to 25,000 pigs
For his slaughterhouses Toennies hired a private veterinarian to optimize and monitor the processes. Joerg Altemeier is responsible also in Rheda-Wiedenbrück and very busy: “Every day, up to 200 trucks with up to 25,000 pigs reach the six offloading ramps at us,” he says. An operating almost like at the airport. Reverse docking at the ramps at the slaughterhouse by the transporter, and the pigs run, similar to airplane passengers after landing, by short “trunk” in the arrivals area. From there, the pink quadrupeds are driven in their group in tubular waiting bays, in each of tehmabout 100 animals can fit. On arrival there was a small pause snack, a shovel corn. They are on effort at Toennies. Closely spaced, the animals then in some bays hug together with each other, about as close as the Japanese during rush hour in the subway of Tokyo. It’s noisy. “The sound insulation in the ceiling is not already installed here,” said Altemeier.
The pigs smell the other bristle animals, and they hear sometimes their cries. They sound anxious and so loud that they drown out the calming music softly in the background to themself. With green light and water mist they try to meet the animals humanely. Not more than two hours, then it’s finished. With a kind of paddling employees drive them on the slightly uphill leading way towards the Stun gondolas. Altemeier has thought it well out, the driver should not touch the animals. The noises are sufficient for the drive. A little touch with the neighbors calmed the friendly animals probably so the gears are often packed behind. A few of the animals try to get away in the opposite direction, but in vain. Sliding panels to concrete block their return. Most of them could live another twelve years, but from this gear there is only one way for them: in the gondolas.
What happens in the CO2 pit?
What exactly happens there with the pigs, the animal researcher Prof. Klaus Troeger, former head of the Max Rubner Institute (MRI) in Kulmbach, 2012 for a study – with Tonnies’ support, incidentally – examined:. Coexistence are the animals with a dozer blade driven over the wide side in the steel cable. Several of these metal cages run suspended at the roundabout as in a Paternoster on chains. The whole area is called “Back Loader”. During a steel cage on one side with up to eight pigs can be loaded, another gondola falls in stages down to the nine-meter-deep shaft CO2. Simultaneouslyanother container which is now pours out the anesthetized pigs on the opposite side on the evisceration line.
What happens to the pigs in the CO2-pit Troeger reconstructed with the help of a video camera in his institute: “If you open the doors and see what happens when the animals immersed in the CO2-Lake, at the latest comes to many people the realization that animals so, can not really be numbed, “he concluded. The gondolas are extremely unpleasant for the animals: “straighten their noses upward, showing open-mouth breathing, so typical signs of suffocation disease, and pushing upward.” It should be tight down there, and while going down, the air will always scarce. “The animals get scared also because the gas in conjunction with liquid is a weak acid and then it attacks their muscous,” said Troeger. The more robust the animals are, they straighten up among the others and get to their counterparts to get oxygen as long as possible. The breathlessness panicked them, denominated in, shrill cries expresses. The overall volume of investment of 80.4 dB then rises in the pit at a noise level of 105.8 dB, Troeger found out with his team. This corresponds to the volume of a jackhammer in one meter distance.
“Even one second agony is too much!”
Ten to twenty seconds, it would last until the pigs are anesthetized by CO2, says Peta – mainly to these ten to twenty seconds “suffocation disease” and “fear of death” is about the animal rights activists. Edmund Haferbeck, Manager of the Legal Department of Peta Germany, says: “Even one second of it is too much for each pig.”
The prescribed minimum period of stay in the CO2 shaft is for 100 seconds; so it is arranged by law, to ensure that the pigs are anesthetized possible sleep tight. After about one and a half minutes the gondola reappears and throws the lifeless bodies on the conveyor belt, where they are expected from an employee. As quickly as possible, so that they are still stunned at the next step, they are snared on one foot, hung on a hook and queued in the flow traffic. The deliberate death occurs then by exsanguination. The next employee on tape sticks to the carotid with a hollow knife. He has to push it directly into the aorta, allowing blood to flow well. The blood then runs over a connected tube. Only when it is dead, the animal may come into the steam of the brewing unit, a kind of pig wash with water that is heated to 62 degrees Celsius.
The red button on the assembly line
Assembly line work: approximately every five seconds a stitch, a pig, a stitch, a pig; 750 animals per band, about 1450 to 1500 animals per hour. A pretty bloody affair. It’s just a slaughterhouse, even if it is considered one of the most modern in Europe. “If a worker does not match correctly this main artery or he forgets a pig because three of them are hanging over each other, then the animal moves probably fully conscious in the hot stock”, says Troeger concerned. “This mis-exsanguinations at large companies are a problem.”
At Toennies they installed, as a consequence of this findings, control systems during bleeding, so Troeger, but they were so often not been retrofitted into other slaughterhouses. At Toennies a scale weighs the pig automatically before and after the bleeding-process. If the device does not register a secure bleeding, it indicates that. Then somebody must do an after-stiching. In addition, an analyzer measures the amount of blood. But that was not quite secure, says Toennies Vet Altemeier; so you still have a man standing there, who will examine the corneal reflex at each animal. “This employee has the permission to press the red button to stop the tape.” With a bolt gun, the employee can then give “the rest” to the animal. But it has got too much time, though a time buffer is incorporated; the tape is running, like a highway to the main tourist season. But at the high volumes handled a few stops remain not out: “We have a daily retention rate, which just happens”, Altemeier admits. The end of May a video device is planned to be installed in addition to control.
This problem, of course, Martin von Wenzlawowisz, veterinary specialist for stunning and slaughter at the Institute for Animal Welfare (BSI Schwarzenbek), knows very well; he visited many German slaughterhouses, also the one of Clemens Tonnies he knows pretty well. “An individual care of the animals, at the beginning of three thousand animals a day, is not longer possible. The error rate during anesthesia in CO2-oriented slaughterhouses is in good companies at “zero”, in bad “five percent” “von Wenzlawowisz says. In the worst case, five percent of the animals could wake up shortly from the powerlessness of death. In theory, they could then be dipped alive for four minutes in the 62 degree hot stock, before they then come into the scratch machine, where the bristles are scraped. Then follows the flameunit to remove the remaining bristles. “The pigs that die in the brewing system, suffer a circulatory collapse. How they die, you cannot see in the hindsight,”explains von Wenzlawowisz.
And what about the suffering of animals in the CO2 stunning? Toennies has responded to the current debate with an opinion; it states, inter alia: “The claim of the Federal Government through badly stunned animals, does not apply to our slaughterhouses. We operate our CO2 plants to stun with the so-called deep anesthesia. This means that the animals in a gondola are dipped in 92% of CO2 atmosphere. (Specified by law are only 80%) This is necessary so that the animals inhale the full concentration of the anesthetic gas as soon as possible. The so performed deep anesthesia guarantees 100% of anesthesia success before and during the bleeding. “
Here contradicts expert Troeger, otherwise satisfied in many ways with Tonnies’ efforts clearly: “It does not change anything on the under discussion spoiled for animals suffering, because the CO2 stunning is an anesthetic inhalation; 10 to 20 breaths are therefore always necessary before the gas acts. The acid effect on the mucous membranes that causes suffocation disease and the resulting panic, feels the animal anyway. “
Stunning and taste
After Troeger had looked at the slaughterhouse in Rheda, he conducted research at his institute in Kulmbach for alternatives of CO2 stunning, a study commissioned by Toennies. 80 pigs were tested by the animal researchers for various gas mixtures, including helium and argon, and their effects. Professor Klaus Troeger found out that pigs become extinct gently with helium: “This is a stunning, as it should be; the pig realizes and feels nothing. That’s what consumers expect from an anesthetic. And not what is done with them in practice, including the animals suffer namely: “The quality of the meat was better, especially in comparison to CO2 stunned pigs; their meat by the release of stress hormones is often pale, soft and watery – or tough. Quite different is the product of anesthetized animals with helium: “It was great tender, and one had the impression, that such pork as a good as that you get nowhere to buy.”
So what speaks against the widespread use of helium in slaughterhouses? The federal government in its Animal Welfare Report claimed, “currently not ready for practical use, because the part of the gas industry the necessary amounts of helium can not be provided.” With argon the animals had at Troegers looking for a CO2 Alternative no problems as well; they only reported that their carcasses partly show red blood spots on: “This meat was to trade not recyclable,” said the researchers. Probably Toennies Vet Altemeier thinks of such problems when he declares: “The alternatives helium and argon proved for us to be impractical.”
The fact that the industry is not just continue business as usual, which are now, we go to Peta, judge the lawyers. It is not new that the animal rights activists try criminal charges. In February 2015, they tried to take action against the killing of male chicks immediately after hatching. The Muenster public prosecutor brought, in November last year, actually charges against a hatchery in North Rhine-Westphalia; However, in early March of this year showed the district court from it, to initiate proceedings.
Action and views
The current lawsuit give experts also only few chances. For example Almuth Hirt from Munich, ex-presiding judge at the Bavarian Supreme Court and co-author of a commentary on the Animal Protection Act. “It speaks much to suggest that pigs are anesthetized with CO2, in the time between the introduction into the CO2 atmosphere and the onset of anesthesia “suffer greatly”,” said the lawyer. Even the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Welfare of the EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, is speaking of torture, “potential distress and suffering”. Hirt: “If, therefore, concludes that the significant suffering, which are exposed to the swine, until the onset of unconsciousness is lasting longer, it would have to be categorized as a criminal offense according to § 17 of the Animal Welfare Act.”
A problem is however that the CO2 stunning of pigs both in the EU battle Regulation, and according to the German animal protection battle Regulation, is a permissible method of stunning. Consequently, it could be that prosecutors or judges who were to rule on such a complaint, no action would take up the CO2 slaughterhouses, so long as one can not assume that the person who applies the method, “culpably meaning criminal” acts , In addition, the EU Council, therefore, the governments of the EU Member States, including the German government had, defied in the approval of the CO2 stunning economic reasons on animal protection concerns – by his own admission. To counter this, “takes a lawsuit to the European Court are applicable, and such actions only the governments of the Member States or the European Commission shall be entitled, but not individual citizens generally”. So it would change anything for the masses useing CO2.
Market and Markets
The latest developments Clemens Toennies gave proudly on 04.04.2016 in its main house in Rheda within a press conference: “We increase in the year 15 again, so we have slaughtered 16.2 million pigs in Germany, across the Group we are without Tican at 18,2 million pigs now.” And the industry leader continues to grow: the acquisition of the Danish Tican Holding has now finished. They hope with and through Tican they could expanse into the English and the Japanese market. Throughout Europe it brings the meat tycoon with the Danish Tican A / S on to 20 million pigs slaughtered, all with CO2 stunning, as usual. Now one aspires to a standardization of processes within the Toennies Group and would bring up internationalization. “Since Serbia fit in, Denmark, France, Spain, which are all countries where you have a good pig production, but a good international marketer is missing, we can make it good.” Cooperation with the French Avril group is on it’s way, in Serbia they want to operate ten farms and a relatively small expansion of a slaughterhouse for both pigs and cows, in Schleswig Holstein, in Kellinghusen where they just begun.
Martin Haeusling, MEP Member of the european parlament and farmer himself speaks from experience: “Around the slaughterhouses, there is a process of concentration of livestock. Many farms fall a merciless displacement competition victim. It is often so that the farmers at the end of the fattening period are no longer owners of the stables. They will wage fatteners, employees of banks and slaughter companies. Only the farmers carry the risk.” Haeusling also believes that German agricultural industry is the most aggressive to the US. The Belgian Government had already complained regarding the policy of eviction of Mr. Toennies. What Mr. Toennies just striving, is a dominance in the pig sector. What has been done in the poultry sector, fully pulls now in the pig market.
The German market for pork with a self-sufficiency rate of 117.4% seems more than supplied, the European with 109% as well. Dr. Heike Harstick, general director of the Association of Meat Industry (VdF) sees it differently: “That says nothing about market saturation.” A significant proportion of the consumption amount in Germany would be introduced from other EU countries and some of the production to other countries, shipped EU or exported to third countries. “This is in particular the fact that pork is sold and consumed in sections that are completely different from each other (for example, pork belly and tenderloin)” finds Harstick.
In the battle sector of structural change causes sorrow also. Approximately one third of the craft enterprises in Germany still slaughter themself, all other Butchers require smaller and medium-sized structures in their region, in which they can either slaughter themself or look for somebody who does it for them. The trend towards ever larger units would penalize the small, artisanal customers. “Who wants stable regional economic structures, which must not penalize this. Politicians love to talk, however, decided by regional cycles or rural structures in the direction to the contrary, for example, see the current ministerial approval Mr. Gabriel to Edeka and Tengelmann,” says Gero Jentzsch, press officer of the ‘German Butchers’ Association E.V. ..
But, there are still a few businesses with heart, where pigs may be cows when they want, as in the “organic meat Huettener mountains” in Schleswig-Holstein. “Here they yet slaughter by hand and even the pigs stunned with a captive bolt, individually, one by one, that’s awesome,” says Angela Dinter, Technical Officer for slaughtering and transport of PROVIEH E.V ..
Even the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture has opened its heart for the “little” and is in “Landi form”, the magazine of the German National Network Unit for Rural Areas (dvs), mobile butcher before: Matthias Kuerthen from Wuepperfuerth. The Butcher’s Tale travels with his “battle art on wheels” by North Rhine-Westphalia. He slaughters to order the pigs on the doorstep of farmers.
Pig blood in cigarette filters
Currently relevant to the mass are two industrial methods of stunning: one stunned with electric current, the other with CO2. Both are not optimal,Troeger said firmly. The animals suffer to a considerable extent, and the error rates are partly still much too high. Troeger: “An animal-friendly industrial slaughter of pigs seems possible only after an irreversible anesthetic by means of a non-aversive gas as preferably He or Ar.” Irreversible stunning means, a reawakening of the animals is not possible, also if supervened should there be without bleeding. Since there would be a considerable need for development. Vet Martin of Wenzlawowisz feels the same way, he also finds it unacceptable that so much meat ends up in the garbage, “meat is just too cheap,” he mourned.
Pork production rose in 2015 compared to 2014 by 0.8% up to 5.56 million tons, although the market is tired, explained Michael Álvarez, of the Heinrich Boell Foundation. The Foundation publishes the “Meat Atlas“ every year with facts about meat consumption: In 2014, for example, the Germans spent 53 Kg pork per capita, but actually have consumed only 38.2 kilograms. The 14.8 kg difference shall, directly utilized industrially. “This is around 28% of total consumption, the land, for example, as pig blood in cigarette filters, populate as gelatin, the cosmetic or pharmaceutical industry, migrate as lard in biodiesel plants, or in other highly questionable Recycling of animal products, so ultimately beings, reflected – as direct result of industrial overproduction.”
A glimmer of hope
One possibility provides Almuth Hirt, the lawyer, but still: “The EU legislator is to blame, that he made the 2004 Report, the recommendations of EFSA: the anesthetic gradually adjust with CO2 and instead use an animal gentler, also approved inert gas, has not worked for purely economic reasons into the EU battle Regulation. Thus the legislator has failed to fulfill its own claim in the 3rd Art. Regulation to spare the animals in the killing of any avoidable pain, distress or suffering. Remedying this situation, each EU citizen in the European Ombudsman elected by the European Parliament under Art. 228 TFEU could cause complaint.
This article as many others on this blog is translated with the help of google translate- I try to improve them 😉 in case of mistakes I hope you’ll help me!