Speaking after a meeting with meat industry representatives in June, brought about by the Animal Aid investigation in slaughterhouses, the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA) has called on better collaboration as a way forward, but also individual responsibility to address the issues.
The meeting organised by the VPHA and observed by the British Veterinary Association (BVA), was attended by the British Meat Processors’ Association, the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, Defra and the FSA Operations Group (FSAOG) amongst others.
The VPHA said that in the discussions, it was acknowledged that responsibility for animal welfare lies with abattoir operators and that the role of FSAOG through its OVs is to monitor operators’ compliance.
On the issue of CCTV in abattoirs at the stunning/slaughter point, the group was said to have agreed that Food Business Operators (FBOs) must have effective procedures in place, either to constantly monitor stunning and slaughter operations, or to enable the FBO or his/her Animal Welfare Officer to inconspicuously observe stunning and slaughter operations at any time.
VPHA president Kenneth Clarke said: “The UK meat industry has generally high animal welfare standards, but it is clear from the Animal Aid footage that, on occasion, a few abattoirs have fallen below these standards.
“It was apparent from our discussions that there are a variety of reasons for poor animal welfare, some of which are specific to individual plants. Sharing best-practice across all plants will be a positive step, but each will need a plant-specific approach to address individual issues.”
Animal Aid said it was encouraged to see that a wide range of industry, regulatory and veterinary bodies came together to dicuss the issues, but rejected the notion that only a few abattoirs had fallen below standards on occasion."