WASHINGTON – Scientists claim there is no animal welfare advantage gained by using controlled atmosphere stunning systems at U.S. chicken slaughtering facilities compared to the conventional stunning systems used by the majority of the chicken industry, according to a National Chicken Council statement.

"The industry feels that while gas systems are worthy of further study, there is no proven reason yet to move away from conventional stunning systems," the statement said.

Conventional stunning, which is used by nearly all chicken processing plants in the United States, is both effective and humane. Under this process, chickens are made unconscious and insensible to pain before they are humanely killed, N.C.C. pointed out.

N.C.C. pointed out that a statement issued by the American Association of Avian Pathologists and the American College of Poultry Veterinarians said, in part: "Physiologic evaluation has failed to demonstrate any welfare advantage of any C.A.S. system over other accepted poultry electrical stunning methods in the United States . . . Specifically, pulsed D.C. or A.C. low voltage stunning [the current U.S. industry standards] allows plants to achieve instant electro-anesthesia at rates exceeding 99.95% efficiency when properly applied, as denoted by E.E.G. monitoring and physical examination . . . The alternative C.A.S. systems, while viable, do not offer any known animal welfare advantages and may in fact be associated with poultry excitation and injury prior to loss of consciousness."

Some poultry scientists are willing to accept gas stunning but say it offers no significant advantages over conventional processing in terms of humaneness, the statement concluded.

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