Impact of electrical stunning on animal protection and food quality

Electrical stunning in a water bath is the most current method used in France in poultry slaughtering. It is governed by European Regulation 1099/2009/CE on « Protection of animals at the time of killing ». This regulation imposes minimum settings of the electrical parameters used for electrical stunning in order to protect the animal but do not take into account the quality of the finished products. It does not mention the adjustments required according to the weight nor the genotype of the slaughtered animals nor the type of organisation of the production chain. The objective of this study was to produce an update on electrical stunning practices in French abattoirs in order to identify the parameters affecting electrical stunning and its impacts on the overall quality of the finished products. Particular attention has been paid to the influence of the type of organisation of the slaughtering chain. This study has emphasised factors greatly affecting electrical stunning quality and finished product appearance: genotype and animal weight, production chain organisation (the time in between stunning and bleeding), electrical stunning parameters and the length of application of the electric current.