Hilton Seafood UK has received an award for trialing and adopting an electric stunner for farmed whiteleg shrimp, which delivers a more humane method of slaughter than immersion in ice slurry.

The company was the winner of the best innovation category of Compassion in World Farming’s Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards. Hilton Seafoods (HSF) is one of the largest distributors of fresh seafood in the UK and it supplies over 100 million vannamei shrimp a year to Tesco. Shrimp are traditionally slaughtered using ice slurry but, in a bid to improve animal welfare, in June 2020 the company trialled an Optimar electrical stunner – which had been modified for use on shrimp – at a farm in Vietnam in collaboration with Amanda Seafood. It was the first large-scale electrical stunning system used for shrimp globally and was able to process 10 tonnes of shrimp an hour. Following successful results, and a review of the outcomes by external animal welfare experts, Tesco approved the use of electrical stunning of P.vannamei in July 2020. Since then, approximately 80 percent of the P. vannamei supplied to Tesco through HSF have been electrically stunned.

The ambition is to achieve 100 percent electric stun for P.vannamei in the HSF supply chain. According to Compassion in World Farming, in addition to the welfare benefits it provides, which includes less handling and lower crowding times for the shrimp, the method was shown to stun more quickly than immersion in ice slurry, and provide a more effective and consistent stun, which reduces labor during harvest, while not being detrimental to product quality.