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Campaign aims to enforce CCTV in Slaughterhouses

Thanks to the horse meat scandal, the provinance of our food is very much in the public mind, with more people than ever taking an interest in the quality of their meat, as well as the welfare of the animals. The animal rights organisation Animal Aid is seeking to seize this with it’s most recent campaign- a call to enforce the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses, providing independent vets and regulators with a way of seeing if animal rights standards in abbattoirs are adhered to when they are not there in person. Going much further than previous similar campaigns, the group are seeking to not only enforce it’s use, but create strict guidelines for camera positioning, recording times and monitoring.

Pork legs hanging from meat hooks
image via


This new campaign comes on the heels of an extensive 2 year investigation by the same group starting in 2009, in which they installed hidden spy cameras in nine slaughterhouses across the country, including one that was supplying Sainsburys. What the investigation uncovered was simply shocking, with 8 out of the 9 companies breaching animal welfare guidelines when the videos were reviewed. Furthermore, some videos documented workers committing acts of cruelty on the live animals, including kicking, burning with cigarettes and repeatedly stunning them. All of this happened despite the fact that every slaughterhouse in the investigation was mandated to have a vet to monitor conditions.

Frustratingly, the fact that the videos were recorded illegally- after an investigator trespassed onto the property to place cameras- meant that despite the amount of evidence gathered, most of it was deemed potentially inadmissable in court. As a result, all but two of the workers in the videos escaped prosecution. Despite this, it helped raise massive amounts of public interest, and convinced a raft of supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, the Coop and more to commit to only buying meat from suppliers that had full CCTV monitoring in their slaughterhouses to help maintain standards.

A selection of pork cuts in a butchers'
Concerns over meat provenance have led to a resurgence in local butchers shops. image via

This new campaign aims to have these CCTV standards enforced nationwide, whilst defining that cameras should cover specific areas where animals are stunned and then killed. But just how effective would such measures be? Some in the industry have pointed out that at least one company in the previous investigation already had CCTV installed, and this obviously did not prevent the abuse. Animal Aid counters that correctly monitoring and archiving the footage is just as important, and should be handled by an independent body. They also point out that despite repeated stunnings being a frequent occurance in 4 of the companies filmed at random, vets working for the government reported only 6 cases in total for all of the UK in 2009, a frankly ludicrous descripancy that only emerged after the videos were released. They also argue that the comparitive cost for a CCTV monitoring system is fairly low compared to the extra assurance it can provide customers and consumers.

So what do you think? Could this be a simple way to help improve animal welfare? Or is it more needless regulation for small businesses in the industry to deal with? Get in touch on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

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