Animal protection is a public and political matter based on ethical standards. What farm animals need for their protection from environmental structures and provocation, on the other hand, is based not on ethics but on biology, i.e. on the animal: «Animals must be housed in such a way so as to ensure that their bodily functions and behaviour are not disturbed and their ability to adapt is not overburdened.» (Swiss Animal Protection Directive, 1981). The extent of animal protection granted is always an expression of a compromise between use and protection.
The legal basis
- Animal Protection Act of 16 December 2005
- Animal Protection Directive of 23 April 2008
Swiss animal protection legislation was completely revised in 2008. The revision took into account, in particular, the desire for streamlining, purging, and defining appropriate levels, as well as the new focus on information and training. Consequently, animals for slaughter, for example, can only be transported by the animal holder or by trained persons. Alongside the short transport distances, this is another reason why animals can be transported and slaughtered with as little stress as possible. Alongside the legislation, the federal government also created incentives, through the selective orientation of direct payments, to take into account more than the minimum requirements of livestock (e.g. BTS Directive, 1998; RAUS Directive, 1998).
Short animal transport distances
In Switzerland animals may only be transported for short periods - up to a maximum of six hours. Animals for slaughter may only be transported by the animal keeper or by trained personnel. In Switzerland animal transportation is of short duration because the slaughterhouses are distributed evenly across the main animal production regions. For these reasons, and because of strict animal protection laws and the independent professional group for animal transports and slaughterhouses in compliance with the animal protection regulations (TTS), animals can be transported in such a way as to minimise stress and are slaughtered in conformity with animal protection laws.
Strict rules for slaughtering and processing
Based on the strict laws and ordinances relating to animal protection, animal health and meat hygiene, Switzerland’s slaughtering regulations are more comprehensive than those governing almost all other areas of food production. Strict requirements are imposed on the construction and equipping of slaughterhouses, as well as on the stunning of animals. Transmission of diseases and contamination of meat must be prevented, and for these reasons there are regulations governing which parts of the animal are to be tested and in what way, especially with regard to the sensitive internal organs. These are chemically and microbiologically tested in case of doubt.
Before, during and after slaughter
Because meat hygiene starts in the barn, it is a duty of the livestock owners that the animals are taken to slaughter healthy and clean. They are fed and looked after properly so that no dangerous substances enter the meat. Additionally, they are registered in the stock movement database from birth to slaughter.
No area of food production is so comprehensively regulated as the slaughter – regarding animal protection, animal health and meat hygiene. Strict requirements are imposed on the construction and equipping of slaughterhouses, as well as on the stunning of animals. The transfer of diseases and contamination of the meat must be prevented. This is why the parts of the animal to be inspected are prescribed, especially when the sensitive internal organs are involved. These are chemically and microbiologically tested in case of doubt.
Further processing also takes place according to specified quality standards which are constantly checked. In the end, consumers benefit from transparent information about the origin, composition, nutritional value, storage conditions and shelf life of the product – and for meat products, also about the origin of the raw materials.
The most important instruments, with which the federal government regulates the livestock and meat market, are measures at the border, surplus volume sales, and storage and price-reduction campaigns. The federal government therefore improves market transparency and supports the market.
The legal basis:
- Articles 46-51 of the Agriculture Act of 29 April 1998
- Agriculture Import Directive of 7 December 1998
- Directive on the livestock and meat market of 26 November 2003
The federal government does not carry out a large part of these tasks itself. These tasks are transferred by the Federal Office for Agriculture (BLW) to Proviande, the Swiss Meat Industry Association, with a performance mandate – it is periodically offered for public tender.