The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) supported the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses but said ’the devil will be in the detail’
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed CCTV recording will become mandatory in all slaughterhouses in England next year.
Legislation will be introduced in the New Year, coming into force in the Spring. All slaughterhouses will be required to comply following an adjustment period of up to six months.
Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) head of policy Norman Bagley said: “We support the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses. The devil will be in the detail however.
“We believe a practical solution would be to provide FSA vets unrestricted access to real time footage.
“To permit FSA to review months of recordings of staff who have not consented to being filmed and initiate retrospective prosecutions is unprecedented. Similar controls over staff in hospitals and care homes would never be contemplated so there is no justification for discrimination of abattoir workers.
“The presence of CCTV will potentially make it more difficult to retain staff, and we anticipate it may be more difficult to recruit new staff to work in these areas.”
Defra said the plans had had a positive response from the industry, welfare groups and the public.
In August, the Secretary of State launched a consultation on the plans to deliver a manifesto commitment for CCTV to be required in every slaughterhouse in England.
A summary of responses published today (November 12) showed more than 99 per cent of respondents supported of the plans.
Mr Gove said: “We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and want to cement our status as a global leader by continuing to raise the bar.
“The reaction to this consultation highlights the strength of feeling among the public that all animals should be treated with the utmost respect at all stages of life and be subject to the highest possible welfare standards.
“These strong measures also provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that as we leave the EU we continue to produce our food to the very highest standards.”
It will also give the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Official Veterinarians (OVs) unfettered access to the last 90 days of footage to help them monitor and enforce animal welfare standards.
British Veterinary Association senior vice president Gudrun Ravetz said: “The mandatory installation of CCTV is a vital tool to ensure high standards of animal health, welfare and food safety in all slaughterhouses.
“Official Veterinarians carry out an essential role in slaughterhouses by independently assessing and reporting breaches of animal welfare, and unrestricted access to CCTV footage will allow them to carry out this role even more effectively.
“We have been campaigning for these measures for a number of years and it is reassuring to see such a high level of support for their implementation from industry and the public.”
Heather Hancock, FSA chairman, said: “The Secretary of State’s decision to require CCTV in all slaughterhouses is a welcome step towards ensuring that animal welfare and hygiene standards are met across the meat industry.
“Last year, the FSA Board concluded that, without mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses, we would see minimal further progress in businesses improving animal welfare or complying with official controls to protect public health.
“We look forward to working with the industry as CCTV plans are implemented, and to seeing public confidence rise as a result.”
RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said it was a ’very welcome and crucial step’.
“We applaud the Secretary of State for his steadfast and focused commitment to ensuring the highest possible animal welfare standards in the UK once we have left the EU.
“The RSPCA looks forward to seeing the details of the proposal as issues such as where the cameras will be located, footage quality and storage, and who can have access to it are essential to making the legislation meaningful.
“We also believe there are further ways to improve the slaughter of farm animals once the UK exits the EU such as prohibiting electrical waterbath stunning for poultry and prohibiting slaughter without stunning.
“In addition, next year’s new Agricultural Bill should contain proper incentives for British farmers to move towards meaningful higher welfare production standards and strong safeguards to protect those higher welfare standards from imported food that has come from animals reared outside the UK under poorer conditions.”