Veterinary chiefs have reiterated call for compulsory CCTV in slaughterhouses, and legislation to provide vets with unrestricted access to the footage.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA) have made the call following undercover filming by an animal welfare organisation which revealed the serious abuse of animals at slaughter, despite CCTV being installed in the slaughterhouse.
Figures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) state 90 per cent of slaughterhouses in the UK have CCTV installed, but more than 30 slaughterhouses refused to share footage with official veterinarians (OVs) working under the authority of FSA.
President of the BVA, Sean Wensley said the refusal to share CCTV footage with official veterinarians is ’unacceptable’.
He said: "We are lobbying for CCTV to be mandatory in all slaughterhouses and for legislation to ensure that footage is readily available to vets. We need to foster a culture of compassion in slaughterhouses, coupled with robust and effective enforcement, so that the animals we farm for food have both a good life and a humane death.”
While the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses is used for monitoring and improving animal welfare at slaughter, officials state the purpose of it is ’fundamentally undermined’ if vets are refused access to footage, and footage is not monitored independently of the slaughterhouse business operator.
Under the current law OVs have a right to request and see the footage if they have cause for concern that abuse may be occurring. However, if this needs to be enforced though the courts the process can be protracted.
VPHA president, Lewis Grant said: "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.”