Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Meat animals are generally slaughtered as untraumatically as possible. Each animal is stunned, usually with a blow or electrical discharge to the head, and then is hung up by the legs. One or two of the major blood vessels in the neck are cut, and the animal bleeds to death while unconscious. As much blood as possible (about half) is removed to decrease the risk of spoilage. (Rarely, as in the French Rouen duck, blood is retained in the animal to deepen the meat’s flavor and color.) After bleeding, cattle and lamb heads are removed, the hides stripped off, the carcasses cut open, and the inner organs removed. Pig carcasses remain intact until they have been scalded, scraped and singed to remove bristles; the head and innards are then removed, but the skin is left in place.