LAPS is now included in Annex I and Annex II of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009
and legal to use in Europe

EUR-Lex - 32018R0723 - EN - EUR-Lex

Main Outcomes of
the European Food Safety Authority’s (2017) Opinion on LAPS [15]

  • LAPS should be approved for use in the EU and that current legislation should be amended
  • EFSA (2017) ranked LAPS as having the lowest welfare hazards for stunning systems
  • Comparing LAPS to either Waterbath or Gas stunning using objectively measurable criteria is not possible as little research using the same scientific methods has been conducted on the other stunning systems


The Table below lists relevant welfare concerns during stunning of poultry with hazard rankings by experts chosen by EFSA for the three methods: Electric Waterbath (W), Gas Stunning using Carbon Dioxide (G), and Low Atmospheric Pressure Stunning (L).

This Table is modified from the EFSA (2017) Opinion on Low Atmospheric Pressure Stunning and the EFSA (2017) Annex A [19] with additional comments on welfare consequences and scientific references. Higher ranks indicate heightened welfare concerns. The ranking of hazards according to the rank sum of all EFSA experts is indicative of (L)≤(G)<(W) with the median hazards rankings of [L = 3.5] ≤ [G = 7] < [W = 10].

Stunning Method Fact/Operation/Process in Concious Animals Description of Welfare Concern Rank Estimate Comments on Welfare Consequences* Reference for Comment
W Unintended Electric Shock Being subjected to a pre-stunning electric shock in any part of the body 12 Results in unnecessary pain and suffering. Mitigated by design of equipment and operation. EFSA, 2004 [7]
EFSA, 2013 [13]
W Handling Being caught by an operator by the legs and being held upside down 4 Dependent on skill of operator. Inversion is stressful causing fear and potentially discomfort. Duncan et al, 1986 [6]
Kannan & Mench, 1997 [25]
Kettlewell & Mitchell, 1994 [26]
W Hanging and compression of the legs (Shackling) Being suspended upside-down by the legs and being conveyed and being subject to compression of the legs by metal bars 8 Shackling is painful and stressful. Limited mitigation may be achieved by shackle design, correct leg aperture size, and minimizing duration of hanging period. Gentle & Tilston, 2000 [21]
EFSA, 2004 [7]
Debut et al, 2005 [5]
Bedanova et al, 2007 [2]
W Neck Cutting Cutting the neck while still conscious (severance of the tissues around the neck) 11 Results in unnecessary pain and suffering. Mitigated by correct application of electrical current and checks on consciousness on exit from waterbath (difficult at high speeds). In multiple bird waterbath stunners the amount of current delivered to an individual bird varies according to the electrical resistance of each bird. EFSA, 2004 [7]
EFSA, 2012 [12]
W Bleeding Bleeding to death while recovering consciousness 10 Results in unnecessary pain and suffering. Mitigated by correct application of electrical currents to ensure adequate stun duration, which persists until death. EFSA, 2004 [7]
EFSA, 2012 [12]
G Tipping/Tilting/Dumping Sudden fall in groups onto a moving conveyor 3 This type of handling is stressful and falls can result in injury, which can be painful and result in suffering. Tinker et al, 2005 [38]
Weeks, 2014 [45]
G Acidic gas or gas mixture Inhalation of an acidic gas or gas mixture 9 Birds show aversion to carbon dioxide and inhalation of certain concentrations can cause discomfort and escape behaviours. Sandilands et al, 2011 [37]
Webster & Fletcher, 2001 [44]
G Respiratory stimulant gas or gas mixture Exposure to a gas or gas mixture that leads to increasing depth and rate of breathing 7 Carbon dioxide is a respiratory stimulant which leads to hyperventilation which may be experienced as respiratory discomfort and breathlessness. Lambooij et al, 1999 [27]
Webster & Fletcher, 2001 [44]
McKeegan et al, 2007 [32]
Coenen et al, 2009 [4]
Von Hollenben et al, 2012 [43]
Gerritzen et al, 2013 [22]
L Noise Being exposed to a sudden unexpected loud noise 2 Birds show vigilance for a few seconds at start of pressure cycle. Martin et al, 2016a [29]
Martin et al, 2016b [30]
Martin et al, 2016c [31]
L Potential gas expansion in body cavities/internal organs Potential expansion of the gases contained in the intestine, the air sacs, and the internal ear due to a reduction of the atmospheric pressure in the environment 9 Detailed pathological examinations including internal organ, facial sinus, and ear drum inspcetion provide no evidence of damage during the LAPS decompression. Vizzier-Thaxton et al, 2010 [42]
USDA, 2010 [40]
CFIA, 2013 [3]
EFSA, 2017 [15]
L Removal of air Exposure to an environment with progressive depletion of air 7 The physiological responses and patterns of behaviour seen with LAPS are similar to those seen in birds exposed to inert gases which also deplete the environment of oxygen. Hypoxia causes drowsiness followed by loss of posture (consciousness). Raj et al, 1991 [36]
McKeegan et al, 2013a [33]
Mackie & McKeegan, 2015 [28]
Martin et al, 2016a [29]
Martin et al, 2016b [30]
Martin et al, 2016c [31]
L Decreasing air humidity Exposure to an environment with progressive depletion of humidity 1 There is a reduction in humidity observed during the LAPS cycle, but this is well within the range tolerated by birds and the duration of exposure is short. Mitchell & Kettlewell, 1998 [34]
Aradas et al, 2005 [1]
Holloway & Pritchard, 2017 [23]

* By Pritchard DG, McKeegan DEF, and Martin JAK, 2018 on behalf of the authors of the papers and 2016 Application to the European Commission for approval of use of LAPS in Poultry in the Member States of the European Union