FSA backs CCTV, claim activists

Animal activists are claiming they have secured the support of the Food Standards Agency in their campaign to have CCTV installed in all UK abattoirs.

With the release of further secret footage showing alleged animal welfare breaches in an Essex slaughterhouse, Animal Aid has repeated its calls for CCTV.

Kate Fowler, head of campaigns, said: “The system has failed to protect these animals from violence, and our investigations indicate that breaches of animal welfare laws are widespread and commonplace.

“Our campaign to have CCTV installed in all slaughterhouses – which now has the support of the Food Standards Agency – would help ensure best-practice and provide evidence for prosecutions, but it will never end the suffering. The only way to do that is to choose meat-free foods.”

Tim Smith, chief executive of the FSA, said: “The slaughtermen we have suspended performed their duties satisfactorily when watched by an FSA vet, but the footage shows some appalling actions when they are not being observed.

“The solution would seem to lie in more observation, whether by management in person, CCTV or additional FSA vets or inspectors. CCTV is a good option, as there is often limited space in the stunning pen.

“Current legislation does not require slaughterhouse operators to install CCTV, but the FSA does support its use in abattoirs. We are working with the meat industry to encourage voluntary CCTV installation as best-practice and we would encourage retailers to consider whether they should make it a requirement of their suppliers. We will continue to demand a zero tolerance to animal cruelty in the meat industry.”

The latest filming, which took place at A&G Barber’s abattoir in Purleigh, Essex, and claimed to show “scenes of extreme and deliberately-inflicted suffering, including use of electric tongs on animals’ snouts, tails and their open mouths”.

The group claimed the footage was the most shocking it had found to date, and the FSA had confirmed that one man has had his slaughter licence permanently revoked and that both he and his employer are being investigated with a view to a prosecution.

Stephen Lomax, from the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, speaking on behalf of Barbers said: “The man involved was a Russian agency worker and has since been dismissed.”

The release of the latest secret footage was timed to co-ordinate with an article in the Sunday Times, which recapped the previous activity of Animal Aid.

Animal Aid has now filmed in seven UK meat plants, and found alleged welfare breaches in six. All the films have prompted investigations by the FSA, and resulted in four staff at three abattoirs losing their slaughtering licences and four more being suspended.

>>Animal Aid attacks farmers

>>Animal Aid claims breaches at ABP

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