The code covers all aspects of commercial slaughter (defined as the killing of animals where a business transaction takes place) and came into effect from 28 May 2010.
National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) Chairman John Hellstrom says the code provides clear guidelines with regard to the way people care for animals beyond the farm.
"It sets out general principles and recommendations for best practice, ensuring animals do not suffer unreasonable or unnecessary pain and distress when they are killed."
"New Zealand’s excellent animal health and welfare status is vigorous. The commercial slaughter code of welfare is another component to a system ensuring animals are treated appropriately from farm to fork."
Included in the code are requirements for pre-slaughter handling facilities, procedures to minimise animal stress; and processes to ensure immediate loss of consciousness during stunning to prevent animals from feeling pain. Minimum standards include:
- approved stunning methods and processes for all mammals and birds;
- handling and killing procedures for crabs, crayfish and freshwater crayfish, whether commercially farmed or wild-caught;
- handling and killing procedures for farmed and wild-captured finfish (including eels) caught and held for killing at a later time, such as in a restaurant;
- the need for each slaughter premise to implement a quality assurance programme.
"The code requires all animals slaughtered commercially in New Zealand to be stunned prior to killing. This is to ensure animals at slaughter are treated humanely and in accordance with good practice and scientific knowledge.