To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department takes to ensure that welfare standards are met in slaughterhouses; and what steps her Department takes in particular relation to such standards as they relate to pre-stunning.
The Government encourages the highest standards of welfare at slaughter. The Government would prefer all animals to be stunned before slaughter but respects the right of the Jewish and Muslim communities to eat meat prepared in accordance with their religious beliefs.
Official veterinarians (OVs) from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are present in all approved slaughterhouses in England and take a prompt, proportionate and risk based approach to enforcement action when animal welfare breaches are identified.
Defra works closely with the FSA to ensure that the welfare of animals is protected in all slaughterhouses. There is a wide ranging, systemic programme of animal welfare monitoring activity including strengthened verification of compliance through the establishment of welfare assurance teams; a welfare themed audit programme; targeted unannounced inspections; additional checks for non-compliant business operators; and improved education and instruction through an animal welfare publicity campaign in slaughterhouses.