Tech­ni­cal man­ual tells how to kill chick­ens hu­manely for bet­ter meat

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By XIECHUANJIAO in Qing­dao and ZHAO RUIXUE in Ji­nan

A new tech­ni­cal man­ual in Shan­dong province en­cour­ages the use of hu­mane meth­ods to slaugh­ter chick­ens. The meth­ods pro­mote bet­ter meat qual­ity, pro­po­nents said.

The man­ual, which sets stan­dards to re­duce the an­i­mals’ suf­fer­ing, was pre­pared by a re­search team at Qing­dao Agri­cul­tural Uni­ver­sity and ap­proved re­cently by the Shan­dong pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s qual­ity watch­dog.

“Com­ply­ing with the hu­mane slaugh­ter man­ual is not only about show­inghu­man com­pas­sion for the an­i­mal but also could im­prove the qual­ity of the meat,” said Sun Jingxin, a pro­fes­sor of food sci­ence at the uni­ver­sity’s Col­lege of Food Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing.

The stan­dards “en­sure that suf­fer­ing at slaugh­ter can be avoided so the an­i­mals ex­pe­ri­ence min­i­mal fear, stress and pain”, he said.

Sun’s team pur­sued the re­search with­Nan­jing Agri­cul­tural Uni­ver­sity and sev­eral other in­sti­tu­tions for sev­eral years, ex­am­in­ing each part of the slaugh­ter process— in­clud­ing catch­ing, the de­pri­va­tion of flu­ids and food dur­ing trans­porta­tion, un­load­ing, rest be­fore slaugh­ter and stun­ning the birds be­fore killing them.

“For ex­am­ple, work­ers should use two hands to catch both wings or use a spe­cial­ized catch­ing de­vice,” Sun said. “Grab­bing a sin­gle wing or leg of a chicken will cause much more pain or bro­ken bones.”

The new man­ual re­quires that live chick­ens be trans­ported no longer than three hours, with proper tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity. Also, the chick­ens need to rest be­fore slaugh­ter, which in­cludes a mas­sager in­stalled on the an­i­mal’s breast to pacify it. Be­fore be­ing killed, chick­ens should be ren­dered un­con­scious with gas or elec­tric shock, ac­cord­ing to the guide­line.

Sun said that with­out these mea­sures, chick­ens suf­fer great pain be­fore death, and blood can burst into mus­cle fibers, caus­ing bruis­ing and stains. The qual­ity of the meat may be se­ri­ously com­pro­mised.

Shan­dong raises 20 per­cent of China’s broiler chick­ens, and chicken ac­counts for 40 per­cent of the province’s meat pro­duc­tion.

“The­man­u­alis not manda­tory law, but com­pa­nies adopt­ing the new stan­dards will be­come more com­pet­i­tive in the mar­ket, and it will lead to im­prove­ment of meat qual­ity and more prof­its in the end,” Sun said.

He ex­pects the stan­dards will be widely ap­plied across China in five to 10 years and con­sid­ers them a great im­prove­ment for the in­dus­try.

He also en­cour­aged the con­sump­tion of more chicken.

“The ef­fi­ciency of pork and beef pro­duc­tion is much lower than chicken. Chicken should ac­count for a much larger share of peo­ple’s diet,” Sun­said.

Peo­ple in­HongKong, Ja­pan and Tai­wan eat more chicken than other meats, he said.

In China, pork is king, ac­count­ing for more than 60 per­cent of meat con­sump­tion, with chicken at 15 per­cent.

Some slaugh­ter en­ter­prises ap­plauded the guide­lines sug­gested by the man­ual.

“The man­ual will give us tech­ni­cal guid­ance, which we re­ally need,” said Xu Shuqin, a sales man­ager at Shan­dong Spring Snow Food Co in Laiyang, Shan­dong province, which fo­cuses on rais­ing, slaugh­ter­ing and pro­cess­ing chicken.

“Hu­mane slaugh­ter will im­prove chicken qual­ity, help­ing us ex­pand our over­seas mar­kets.”

Con­tact the writ­ers at xiechuanjiao@chi­

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