Writing in the Financial Times, three leading vets have said that without adequate supplies of CO2 to slaughterhouses there could be a backlog of animals.
The letter, signed by British Veterinary Association president John Fishwick, British Veterinary Poultry Association president Philip Hammond and Veterinary Public Health Association president Collin Wilson says the lack of CO2 would also affect the ability on farms to carry out emergency slaughter on site.
“CO2 is used to stun poultry in order to perform humane slaughter and if there are not adequate supplies of CO2 to slaughterhouses this could result in a backlog of animals leading to a critical animal welfare situation on farms if they cannot be processed.
“Along with colleagues in the poultry industry, the veterinary profession is calling on all major gas producers to prioritise CO2 supplies to slaughterhouses in order to ensure standards of animal welfare are maintained and to keep the food chain moving.
“The British poultry industry has some of the highest welfare standards in the world and action must be taken to ensure that these CO2 shortages do not jeopardise the UK’s reputation in this area,” they add.
Defra has said that it is in regular contact with the UK food and drink sector, CO2 suppliers and trade associations to understand the impacts and timescales for restoration.
“We understand this is a short-term issue and have been assured CO2 producers are working as fast as they can to get plants up and running again, with CO2 production set to start very shortly,” said a spokesperson.