Pressure Mounts for CCTV in Slaughterhouses

UK - The British Food Standards Agency is to call on slaughterhouses across the UK to install CCTV systems as a tool to help protect animal welfare.
calendar icon 12 October 2010
clock icon 4 minute read

The move follows undercover operations by the animal rights group Animal Aid that the FSA says has shown breaches of animal welfare legislation at slaughter.

Now the FSA said it is recommending that food business operators install CCTV systems in slaughterhouses and actively monitor footage as a means to help protect animal welfare.

The agency said that it had been contacted in the summer of 2009 by Animal Aid with a report and undercover filming of breaches of welfare legislation at the pre-slaughter handling, stunning and sticking stage of the slaughter process.

Then the animal rights group brought forward five more incidents it had filmed undercover up to May this year.

In a report from the FSA Board that is being discussed by the agency this week, the FSA said: "Generally, the breaches observed on the Animal Aid footage were of four types:

  • "Clear breaches of the WASK Regulations that have resulted in animal suffering - for example insufficient stunning and significant delays in sticking after stunning; "
  • Technical breaches of WASK that did not result in immediate animal suffering - for example the lack of a head restraint and delays in stunning; "
  • Procedures that would be considered best practice that have not been followed but are not a breach of WASK - for example stunned and bled pigs falling off the line and being dragged back into the stunning pen; "
  • Matters that Animal Aid consider undesirable, but not covered by legislation or best practice - for example use of a wheelbarrow to take a casualty sheep into the stunning pen, graffiti in the lairage and swearing."

The FSA said that its vets had viewed the footage and suspended the slaughtermen where it was necessary.

The agency then carried out a survey of all slaughterhouses for animal welfare practices.

The FSA said it found that seven per cent of the slaughterhouses already had CCTV equipment installed for monitoring animal welfare in the stunning and slaughter area and eight per cent had CCTV systems in place to monitor welfare in other areas.

The slaughterhouses that have CCTV slaughter about 13 per cent of the cattle throughput, 16 per cent of sheep, 42 per cent of pig and 40 per cent of the total poultry throughput.

The FSA has recognised that the industry has not backed the installation of CCTV to monitor animal welfare as it says that the visual checks by the FSA staff should be sufficient.

However, it said that food businesses could be put under pressure to install CCTV by retailers.

The agency said that where CCTV equipment is installed there needs to be clear delineation of how it will be monitored and the practices recorded to ensure adequate welfare practices

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