Following a meeting of the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE), in which recommendations for the welfare of beef cattle were adopted, Europgroup for Animals has called on the EU to follow suit.
It said that the production of beef is currently not regulated at EU level despite what it claimed was “clear scientific evidence that significant welfare problems exist”.
It pointed to a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), published last week, which it claimed highlighted numerous welfare risks that exist in current beef production systems, such as overcrowding, digestive disorders, injuries due to slatted concrete floors and painful mutilations such as castration and dehorning.
It is now calling on the European Commission to consider the recommendations made in the EFSA report and use these to strengthen the OIE recommendations.
Sonja Van Tichelen, director of Europgroup, said: “It is not acceptable for the European Union to leave cows in the cold without any rules to protect them. We consume steak and burgers without any assurance that the animals used to produce them have been treated properly.
Without our own EU-wide standards we are in a very weak negotiating position to demand equivalence for the increasing amounts of imported meat coming from countries such as Brazil or Argentina.
“The European Commission can no longer bury its head in the sand. The Council of Europe produced recommendations for the keeping of cattle as far back as 1988 and still they have not been transposed into EU law. The OIE has now put further pressure on the EU and action must now be taken.”