Tiger Brands Faces Charges Over Pig Gassing in South Africa

  • Animal activists say slaughtering method causes distress
  • Gassing is current best practice, according to company

Animal activists laid criminal charges against Tiger Brands Ltd., South Africa’s biggest food company, for a pig-slaughtering method that involves the animals being gassed to death in cages after being lowered into a pit.

The National Council of SPCAs said it laid the charges because its concerns had not been addressed. Tiger Brands confirmed the case, responding that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries found that the method is current best practice.

“Criminal charges laid against Pork Packers, are neither valid, rational nor in the interest of the animals,” the company said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

The system involves the suffocation of the pigs with carbon dioxide before they are slaughtered, according to an e-mailed statement from the NSPCA.

“Until they lose consciousness, the pigs display violent reactions including panic-like systems such as kicking, gasping and frantic efforts to escape by climbing on top of one another,” the animal-rights group said, adding video footage of the method in a link in its statement.

Two common methods for commercial pre-slaughter stunning of pigs are electrical stunning and CO2 anesthetization and are recognized internationally, according to Tiger Brands. The use of C02 anesthetization caused the least stress, it said.

“It is necessary to employ measures to avoid pain and minimize the distress and suffering of animals during the slaughtering process,” Andrew Cocks, managing executive responsible for Pork Packers at the company, said. “We take into account the best practices in the field and the methods permitted under the regulations.”

(Updates with company comments from second paragraph.)

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