Slaughterhouse video prompts FSA to throw weight behind calls for CCTV in UK abattoirs

Cows in a fieldCCTV should be installed in slaughterhouses, the UK Food Standards Agency has said, following the secret filming of animal rights abuses in seven abattoirs in England.

The charity Animal Aid surreptitiously recorded disturbing footage of pigs being stamped on, kicked and inappropriately stunned.

Despite the unsurprising opposition of the meat industry to the plans, the FSA is pressing ahead with efforts to introduce CCTV cameras in order to eradicate what it called “unacceptable” breaches of legislation designed to prevent cruelty to animals.

FSA chief executive Tim Smith said the images were “sickening”, telling the Guardian newspaper: “From our perspective, what we were seeing was evidence that allowed us to go directly back to the food business operators and say: ‘It doesn’t really matter how this footage was obtained, or how it came into our presence… Look at the footage, and here is what the FSA as the enforcer in this area thinks’.”

While the FSA cannot compel slaughterhouses to comply, Smith said it would actively encourage them to fit cameras – and that consumers and supermarkets had a role to play in making this happen.

“We looked at the cost [of fitting CCTV cameras] and it didn’t seem to us to be disproportionate, compared to the reassurance that the customer of that plant might get. If I was a major retailer in this country and thinking what I was going to give my customers [to reassure them that] the best animal welfare standards were being used, then I would be putting [cameras] in the specification for meat-procurement.”

Supermarket Sainsbury’s said it was “working with all suppliers across all species with a view to them all installing CCTV”. After the allegations of mistreatment were made in June it suspended its contract with an abattoir, but has since resumed beef supplies.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs investigated five of the slaughterhouses filmed by Animal Aid, but has since dropped attempts at prosecution because of previous court cases in which “unlawfully obtained video footage” was ruled inadmissible as evidence.

Animal Aid will release its report into all seven slaughterhouses in coming weeks. Click here for more on what you can do to stamp out slaughterhouse cruelty.

To read the Guardian article and watch the footage, click here. Be warned that the images are disturbing.

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