QUALITY-oriented meat production has grown during the past decade and its aim is to improve the harmonisation of product characteristics and consumer demands. Consumer concerns about quality are not limited solely to intrinsic characteristics, for example, meat quality, but often include extrinsic aspects, such as environment and animal welfare in relation to production. Legislation in various EU-member states is often based on animal health and welfare considerations, protecting personnel working with animals, as well as the health and safety of the animals themselves. This interaction, whether it be during housing, transport or slaughter, should not lead to unnecessary excitement, pain or suffering. The current level of animal welfare protection in the EU is one of the highest in the world. However, the European approach is under pressure because of the differences in animal welfare standards between EU member states. Postmortem measurements in the slaughterhouse provide valuable information for welfare evaluation; however, a good feedback system should be available and a process-oriented animal welfare assurance system developed. It is suggested using the meat inspection as an animal welfare diagnostic tool or in animal welfare surveillance schemes at national and international levels; however, the meat inspection process needs to be standardised, as discussed in a paper on pigs summarised on p 621 in this week's issue of Veterinary Record (Harley and others 2012).
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