Humane slaughter a “sham” activists claim
Animal rights activists have branded the concept of humane slaughter in UK abattoirs a “sham” after secret filming allegedly revealed welfare breaches at a number of slaughterhouses.
Animal Aid used secret cameras to film in two abattoirs – JV Richards, Cornwall and AC Hopkins, Somerset – between January and June this year to compile a report entitled ‘The Humane Slaughter Myth’.
A third abattoir was also filmed, Pickstock Ashby in Derbyshire, yet Animal Aid could offer no evidence of breaches, despite naming them in the report.
The group claimed to have filmed evidence of animals being inadequately stunned, some stunned animals being allowed to come round again, ewes being stunned while a lamb suckled and animals being kicked in the face.
Kate Fowler, head of campaigns at Animal Aid, said: “We believe that millions of animals across the country are suffering untold torment when they are stunned and killed. In the stun rooms, we filmed terrified sheep and pigs running crazily in circles, looking for an exit or trying to make themselves invisible behind the hoist.
“Many animals were partially stunned and left writhing or convulsing on the floor, while the stun operator ignored their plight. Animals were kicked, hit, goaded, sworn at and stood on. In our view, one worker in particular combined incompetence, stupidity and callousness. But even those workers who function as best they can, operate in a system that is pitiless.”
She added: “The film we obtained shows scenes from hell and disposes of the myth that slaughter in the UK is, or can ever be, humane.”
Animal Aid goes on to make the claim that the abattoir chosen for filming is typical of facilities across the UK and that the same standards would apply across the country.
A lot of the report’s allegations are directed towards AC Hopkins, and Animal Aid is now calling for the immediate revocation of the plant’s stun operator/slaughterer’s licence and his prosecution for breaches of animal welfare.
It also called for an independent investigation into the workers’ performance, including an assessment of the role of AC Hopkins management, the Meat Hygiene Service and the Official Veterinarians.
The report also demands CCTV to be installed in all slaughterhouses and all film to be made available to a panel that includes a representative of Animal Aid. It also recommends ongoing training for all abattoir workers and a change in the law so that they are formally re-tested every three years
Stuart Roberts, director of the British Meat Processors Association, said: “It has, and always will be our view that the treatment of animals is an absolute priority for all abattoirs and abattoir workers and any behaviour which negatively affect the welfare of animals is totally and utterly unacceptable.
Steve McGrath, chief executive of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), said: “Animal cruelty within a slaughterhouse will not be tolerated. The MHS has reviewed the Animal Aid footage and there is evidence of breaches of animal welfare legislation. We have been in contact with the slaughterhouses concerned and one slaughter man has already had his licence suspended
“MHS staff will and do take appropriate enforcement action if breaches of animal welfare legislation are witnessed or evidence provided of such incidents taking place. However, we cannot inspect every animal and bird at the point of slaughter and full responsibility for animal welfare rests with the operators of slaughterhouses.”