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Animal Welfare: Slaughterhouses

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 14th December 2011.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 3 October 2011, Official Report, column 1404W, on slaughterhouses: CCTV, what specific steps she is taking to prevent breaches of the law in slaughterhouses; and if she will make it her policy to report on progress in the implementation of such steps.

Photo of James Paice James Paice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I can confirm we remain committed to ensuring high standards of welfare in all slaughterhouses and abuse of animals anywhere, including slaughterhouses, is unacceptable.

Welfare in slaughterhouses is currently subject to the requirements of the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, which are enforced in slaughterhouses by the Food Standards Agency acting on behalf of the Secretary of State. DEFRA and the Food Standards Agency are working closely on how this issue is to be resolved, including the development of an Enforcement Strategy to make clear what steps will be taken in the event of animal welfare breaches being found. The Food Standards Agency has also recently completed a survey of animal welfare standards in slaughterhouses, which will be published in early 2012.

Council Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing comes into effect on 1 January 2013. This requires us to lay down rules on penalties which are effective, proportionate and dissuasive. We are currently developing proposals for implementation and are considering the role administrative and financial penalties might play alongside criminal prosecutions for welfare breaches. Our aim will be to ensure sanctions can be applied in a way that ensures immediate action is taken to resolve the issue, or halts production until the problem has been addressed. We will consult on these proposals in the normal way next year.

Many slaughterhouses have installed or are in the process of installing, CCTV and this is to be welcomed. Regulation 1099/2009 introduces new monitoring requirements in slaughterhouses and CCTV does have an important role to play alongside other methods, in providing inconspicuous monitoring. Our review of the role CCTV can play, including consideration of whether CCTV should be made mandatory, is continuing in that context.

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