EFSIS training is a real confidence booster

With the new Animal Welfare Bill set to become law in the summer, meat businesses need to re-examine their practices to make sure they do not fall foul of the new regulations.

The right staff training and an independent food inspection service can make all the difference, says EFSIS which, in conjunction with partner Livestockwise, are offering courses designed to ensure slaughterhouse staff have the right skills.

"A lot of people are thinking about their responsibility to make sure staff know what they are doing," says Carole Payne, EFSIS Food Director, "but the need for training is not new.

"It has always been important that people are aware of the need to make sure animals are treated humanely," she said.

The courses are specific to the species of animal involved and are designed to provide guidance on the welfare of animals at all stages of handling in the slaughterhouse, from unloading through to lairage and the killing process.

It also provides guidance on the requirements of law as well as industry standards and customer specifications."

The first thing trainees are taught is to understand the concept of animal welfare and to be able to explain it.

"Trainees have to learn why the correct handling and treatment of animals is necessary," says Ms Payne. "They have to, for example, explain what stress is as it relates to animals, and describe how it might be caused. They are given an understanding of animal behaviour and handling. By the end of the course, they are expected to understand the main behavioural characteristics of the animals and to know the difference between good and bad handling facilities and practices, as well as know what type of handling is banned in law."

The course goes through every stage of the process, from unloading and reception, where early identification of problems is important, to maintaining the animals' welfare in the lairage and then to how animals are restrained, methods of stunning and bleeding. The final summary enables the trainees to apply the course to their own particular workplaces and practices.

"Staff who have completed the course successfully, receive the Abattoir Animal Welfare Certificate from EFSIS," says Carole Payne. "The course is very practical, site specific and delivered by an expert in animal welfare. There has been excellent feedback from delegates who found it useful in understanding their responsibilities and also from employers who can have confidence their animals are not suffering and the law is been observed."

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