Undercover Exposé of Meat Trade


Reaction to Animal Cruelty Exposed in Covert Film

Representatives from the Food Standards Agency, Animal Aid and The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers give their responses

Tim Smith, Chief Executive, Food Standards Agency:

“The FSA takes its animal welfare responsibilities seriously and I have recently met with Animal Aid to discuss their concerns. However the scale of GB meat production means that FSA staff cannot watch the slaughter of every animal.

"The vast majority of slaughterhouses in GB are fully compliant with their animal welfare legal requirements but there should be no exceptions.

"The slaughtermen we have suspended performed their duties satisfactorily when watched by an FSA vet, but the footage shows some appalling actions when they are not being observed. The solution would seem to lie in more observation, whether by management in person, CCTV or additional FSA vets or inspectors. CCTV is a good option as there is often limited space in the stunning pen.

"Current legislation does not require slaughterhouse operators to install CCTV, but the FSA does support its use in abattoirs. We are working with the meat industry to encourage voluntary CCTV installation as best practice and we would encourage retailers to consider whether they should make it a requirement of their suppliers.

"We will continue to demand a zero tolerance to animal cruelty in the meat industry.”

Andrew Tyler, director of Animal Aid, which exposed the abuses of animals in a series of abattoirs

"In six out of seven randomly selected UK abattoirs, Animal Aid filmed examples of welfare breaches, incompetence and even sadistic cruelty. This has resulted in several workers being suspended and a number of prosecutions being prepared. We did not film for weeks in these establishments before encountering problems, but for an average of two or three days. In some abattoirs, the cruel and incompetent behaviour was constant and extremely painful to observe.

"The scale and nature of evidence we have collected demonstrates that these problems are endemic within the industry, a point acknowledged to us in high level meetings we’ve had with senior veterinary and food regulatory officials. It is head-in-the-sand escapism for industry elements to blithely pretend that there are not deep-seated problems.

"Equally, we are wholly confident that our investigative methods – which involve no law breaking, property damage, let alone threats or violence – were proportionate and in the public interest. We have put before the public the shocking reality of so-called humane slaughter. The introduction of CCTV would be a considerable advance. But whatever systems are put in place, slaughter will remain a violent and traumatic experience for animals. There never can be such a thing as “humane slaughter”. That is why we urge people to adopt an animal-free diet."

Stephen Lomax, technical advisor, Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, which represents around 180 British abattoirs

"The meat industry is grateful to Animal Aid for bringing to public attention problems that FSA Official Veterinary Surgeons have failed to identify. Readers of the Sunday Times might be surprised to know that these abuses have occurred despite the continuous, full time supervision of all abattoirs by FSA veterinary surgeons.
"Official Veterinarians had identified no problems with welfare in any of these plants and the proprietors thus relied on FSA that welfare was excellent, which was not in reality the case.

"British abattoirs are the only businesses in the world subject to continuous official supervision, in contrast patently more hazardous activities such as the processing of nuclear fuel. However, this delivers little or no benefit to the tax payer and operators who share the huge costs. The reason is the very low calibre of Official Veterinarians. Almost all are new graduates, without any clinical experience, from other EU member states, who speak English only as a second language and are appallingly paid, often little more than minimum wage.

"Industry demands more effective regulation on which our businesses can rely. Spot checks by experienced and professionally paid veterinarians, ideally UK practitioners with appropriate experience of agriculture and animal welfare, are the answer. The Food Standards Agency has allowed costs and bureaucracy to run out of control without delivering and has failed completely. A combination of the best of the private sector with the experience of DEFRA veterinary surgeons to provide independent audit is the way forward.

"A system of full time FSA supervision at huge cost which has nevertheless failed to notice the events recorded by Animal Aid should not be permitted to survive"

The Sunday Times



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An Insider's View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement

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