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All slaughterhouses in England must have CCTV for animal welfare enforcement, under new plans announced by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
CCTV would be required in all areas where live animals are present. It’s also proposed that official vets would have access to view live and stored footage; those authorised officers could check samples of CCTV footage in real time and retrospectively. Michael Gove said: “We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and the actions I am setting out today will reinforce our status as a global leader. As we prepare to leave the EU, these measures provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that our food is produced to the very highest standards.”
Under the new plans for CCTV, that will come under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, footage would be accessible to the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Official Veterinarians (OVs), who monitor and enforce animal welfare standards in the slaughterhouse. The FSA has processes in place for the approval of slaughterhouses, and vets make checks on the welfare of animals in slaughterhouses. If breaches are found, a slaughterhouse can be given a welfare enforcement notice, have its staff’s licences suspended or revoked, or be referred for a criminal investigation.
Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), said: “We see CCTV as an invaluable management tool for business owners to help with compliance with official controls and to improve animal welfare standards across the industry.” She added that the FSA concluded last year that it was time for CCTV compulsory, progress on voluntary adoption ‘having plateaued’, to about half of red meat slaughterhouses, and around 70pc of poultry. And even where CCTV is installed, key areas of welfare risk may not be covered, such as hard-to-see stunning areas, the regulator says.
A consultation on CCTV in slaughterhouses will run for six weeks from August 11, to September 21; while a consultation on a ‘Code of Practice for the Welfare of Meat Chickens and Meat Breeding Chickens’ will run for eight weeks. This covers solely England as animal welfare policy is devolved.
Visit the Defra website for the consultation questions; and an internal impact assessment document. Visit https://consult.defra.gov.uk/farm-animal-welfare/cctv-in-slaughterhouses/.
According to the consultation document, it’s proposed that CCTV footage should be retained by the slaughterhouse for three months. In May 2017 the FSA agreed a protocol with industry on limited access to live CCTV feeds. In January 2017 the French Assembly voted for the compulsory installation of CCTV in slaughterhouses, again after publicity about animal welfare abuses. The consultation document puts cost of installation at £2,500 for premises without CCTV. The official veterinarians already have power to seize CCTV footage where a breach of the regulations is suspected.
For more visit the Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) website.