Electric stunning and experience with electro-convulsive therapy

27-12-2011 | | |

Researchers Zivotofsky and Strous from Israel provide a perspective on the electrical stunning of animals: Are there lessons to be learned from human electro-convulsive therapy (ECT)?

Animals have been slaughtered by humans since time immemorial. Over the last few generations attention has been focused on minimizing the animal’s pain and suffering during slaughter.
Based on the assumption that loss of consciousness due to electrical stunning combined with
exsanguinations is a humane technique of slaughter, this procedure has become one of the most widely employed methods in commercial meat production, being used in almost all species.
In recent years, some shortcomings with this method of minimizing the animal’s suffering have been noted.
Electrical stunning is probably more akin to human electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) than to epilepsy, and some of the negative aspects of unmodified ECT may be present during electrical stunning, further questioning the use of electrical stunning in the slaughter of animals.
Highlights of this research:
  • Electrical stunning is a widespread method of commercial pre-slaughter stunning
  • Effective electrical stunning may be difficult to achieve in practical conditions
  • Effective stunning is particularly difficult to achieve with poultry
  • Electrical stunning parallels unmodified human electro-convulsive therapy (ECT)
  • Unmodified ECT is considered cruel in humans and is thus prohibited