EU food safety agency criticizes #RabbitCages

| January 13, 2020

The EU food safety agency has criticized the use of conventional cages for rabbit farming in a new study. The international NGO Compassion in World Farming welcomes this report and calls on the European Commission to use the latest scientific evidence and improve the lives of rabbits in the EU.

In the new report, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that the welfare of rabbits is lower in conventional cages, compared to other systems. For adult rabbits, the key welfare issue is that their movement is restricted. EFSA also concludes that organic systems are generally good.

This study follows a request by the European Parliament. In 2017, following an enthusiastic campaign by the supporters of Compassion in World Farming, the European Parliament called on the EU Commission to propose new legislation with minimum standards for farmed rabbits, and asked EFSA to produce this scientific study.

Olga Kikou, head of Compassion in World Farming EU, said: “Today, the EU food safety agency issued a scientific opinion, shedding light on the hard fate of the millions of rabbits, silently suffering in cages across the EU for all of their lives. We call on the new EU Commission to listen to the advice of this agency and take measures to better protect rabbits. This includes proposing new, species-specific legislation for rabbits, which is lacking at the moment. This would be a big win for animals across Europe, as rabbits are the second most farmed species in the EU in terms of numbers.”

Olga continued: “We also call on the new European Commission to ban cages for all animals, including hens, sows, calves, ducks and geese. When caged, these animals live in similarly miserable conditions and cannot perform the most basic natural behaviors. The recent European Citizens’ Initiative to End the Cage Age has made it crystal clear that EU citizens care deeply about farm animals, and that they want them out of cages. The EU must finally show leadership and do something about the concerns of its citizens.”

  1. For over 50 years, Compassion in World Farming has campaigned for farm animal welfare and sustainable food and farming. We have over one million supporters and representations in eleven European countries, the US, China, and South Africa.
  2. Today, EFSA also published two other opinions on the stunning methods of rabbits and the killing of rabbits for reasons other than meat production. The reports that EFSA released today are the following:
  1. The use of rabbit cages is banned or limited in several EU member states:
  • Austria, banned for rabbits raised for meat (2012)
  • Belgium, banned for meat rabbits or breeding females (2025)
  • Netherlands, ban of barren cages (2016)
  • Germany, ban of barren cages (2024)
  1. In Europe, more than 300 hundred million animals spend much of their lives in cages, which are cruel and completely unnecessary. The End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative, supported by over 170 NGOs, collected over 1,6 million signatures and surpassed the minimum threshold in 21 EU Member States (subject to validation): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. For more information, please read our report on caged farming in Europe [CzechDutchEnglishFrenchGermanGreekItalianPolish and Spanish].

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