An FSA spokesperson said: “The MHS and Defra support the provision of CCTV as a way of helping food business operators comply with legislation. The scale and complexity of the work the MHS regulates means our vets cannot oversee the slaughter of every individual animal and bird.
“Neither Defra nor the MHS have legal powers to demand viewing rights of CCTV footage, but hope that food business operators with CCTV will voluntarily grant access to MHS official veterinarians.”
Smith was quoted in The Times as saying: “I do believe we have to get tougher with the weaker points in the meat supply chain… Where we find resistance, it is from operators with something to hide.”
Animal charity the RSPCA has already called for all abattoirs that use its Freedom Food scheme to have CCTV installed in them to improve animal welfare and has urged other slaughterhouses to follow its lead, which has the support of Compassion in World Farming and The Soil Association.
In December, vegetarian charity Animal Aid called on all British abattoirs to have CCTV installed in them, after it released video evidence of animal abuse in UK slaughterhouses, and has welcomed the news from the RSPCA.
Kate Fowler, Animal Aid head of campaigns said: “The mandatory installation of CCTV would encourage best-practice, help train slaughtermen and provide evidence for prosecutions. As such, it is an important initiative.”
But Stephen Rossides of the British Meat Processors’ Association noted that some BMPA members already use CCTV for security and training processes. And he aired concerns about making
CCTV installation compulsory, pointing to the added costs it would inflict on the industry. “It has not been demonstrated that animal welfare risks justify mandatory CCTV as a proportionate cost-effective measure across the whole abbatoir sector,” he said. “The processing industry is already under severe cost pressures without imposing any more.”