Soil Association hits back at activists

Organic bosses have hit back at animal activists over claims secret filming showed alleged cruelty against one of its members farms.

Animal Aid published secretly filmed footage at what it said was Otter Valley Poultry, a farm it claimed had Soil Association (SA) approval, a claim denied by the SA.

A spokesman for the SA said it was not clear where the footage was from, and that while Otter Valley Poultry's abattoir operation was certified by the SA, there was no farm operation registered with the organisation.

He said: "The second half of the footage shows stock being reared in poor conditions. We do not know where this was filmed. We do no certify any farm run by Otter Valley Poultry."

The SA said the first half of Animal Aid's footage featured an abattoir, and after an initial examination, it said it did not believe the place had broken organic standards. The spokesman added: "Abattoirs aren't by their nature very pleasant places, but our inspectors have viewed the footage and can find nothing that contravene organic or even conventional standards."

The move by Animal Aid follows recent secret filming at another organic Soil Association-approved plant in Devon. A subsequent investigation of the Tom Lang Abattoir let to three slaughtermens' licences being suspended.

Kate Fowler, Animal Aid's head of campaigns, said the footage filmed at Otter Valley Poultry's was distressing: "We believe the gap between public expectations for organic poultry and what we filmed at this Devon farm and slaughterhouse is immense."

A spokesman for the British Poultry Council said: "Conditions portrayed in the Animal Aid film footage are not representative of the poultry industry as a whole. While some of the scene's in the slaughter house do actually represent good practice for an operation of this size, there are other aspects on the farm that warrant concern. Animal Aid should (if they haven't already done so) provide all footage shot to Defra or the local Animal Health authority for investigation."

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