The BVA and the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA) reiterated their call for mandatory CCTV cameras in slaughterhouses and legislation to ensure vets have unrestricted access to the footage.
The call follows undercover filming by Hillside Animal Sanctuary at the Simply Halal slaughterhouse in Norwich that revealed serious abuses of animals at slaughter, despite CCTV being installed. The footage was reported not to have been stored.
According to the Food Standards Agency, 90% of slaughterhouses in the UK have CCTV, aimed at monitoring and improving animal welfare at slaughter. However, the BVA and VPHA have urgent concerns the purpose of CCTV in slaughterhouses is fundamentally undermined if vets are refused access to footage and it is not monitored independently of the business operator.
Under the law, official veterinarians (OVs) have a right to request and view footage if they have cause for concern abuse may be occurring. However, if this needs to be enforced though the courts the process can be protracted.
BVA president Sean Wensley said it was unacceptable there are slaughterhouses unwilling to share CCTV footage with OVs.
Culture of compassion
Dr Wensley said: “We are lobbying for CCTV to be mandatory in all slaughterhouses and for legislation to ensure footage is readily available to vets.
“We need to foster a culture of compassion in slaughterhouses, coupled with robust and effective enforcement, so the animals we farm for food have both a good life and a humane death.”
VPHA president Lewis Grant added: “The promotion of good animal welfare is fundamental to the core values of the VPHA and the ability of OVs in slaughterhouses to freely monitor the activities at the point of slaughter would not only ensure good animal welfare, but also serve to promote the integrity of the industry as a whole.”