Meat bosses expressed concern that Animal Aid, which carried out undercover filming in a number of abattoirs between January and June of this year, only released the evidence towards the end of August.
Stuart Roberts, director of the British Meat Processors Association, said: “From reading the report, it is unclear when the unacceptable treatment of animals was taking place. However, it is clear that, at the very least, this was two months prior to the report’s publication. I would be extremely concerned if anyone who is aware of the mistreatment of animals did not bring this to the attention of the authorities at the earliest possible moment.”
Steve McGrath, chief executive of the Meat Hygiene Service, said: ““If any individual witnesses unacceptable actions and behaviour by a slaughterman, the MHS wants to be notified, so that we can take immediate preventative action. I am concerned that this footage has only just been drawn to our attention.”
However, Andrew Tyler, director with Animal Aid, said it needed to compile and analyse the evidence to ensure they had a comprehensive report into the issue. “It was important that we produced a report that was significantly substantial so that action would follow.”
He said previous attempts to pass across filmed evidence to the MHS had resulted in no action being taken. “It’s a bit rich and deeply offensive for them to claim the moral high ground. We knew the footage we had was potent and it was important that we made the best sense of it we could – what possible motive would we have for waiting?
“Editing the footage was painful, protracted and difficult, but as soon as we were ready, we went public."
Tyler denied industry accusations that the delay was down to any public relations timing. He added the authorities had questions to answer: “MHS and Defra are in the frame – they allowed these people to practise without due monitoring and proper training.”