By Jake Davies – Farmers Weekly
An MP has called on government to make CCTV monitoring in slaughterhouses compulsory and for the footage to be offered to independent inspectors for scrutiny.
A debate was tabled by MP for Crawley, Henry Smith, hours after the release of footage, secretly filmed at a halal abattoir, that shows rough handling of sheep on the killing line.
In graphic filming, a butcher appears to take several attempts to cut the neck of one unstunned animal. Rules surrounding Halal slaughter state animals must have the windpipe and arteries severed with a single cut of a surgically sharp blade.
The Halal Food Authority has said the footage does not represent Halal slaughter, and that it supports calls for compulsory CCTV.
Mr Smith said it highlighted the failings of the current inspection system, where government-appointed on-site vets are the main welfare monitor.
He recommended CCTV footage be made compulsory and available to independent inspectors, potentially animal rights groups, who could monitor out of interest in welfare at no cost to the taxpayer.
Every major supermarket now specifies CCTV in slaughterhouses that serve them. Latest Food Standards Agency figures suggest about 48% of red meat and 59% of poultry by volume are slaughtered in abattoirs that have camera monitoring.
It was noted that those who resisted CCTV may be the ones most in need of additional regulation.
George Eustice, undersecretary of state for Defra, said in 2012 the government had decided against mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses.
He added the issue remained under review, with no final decision yet taken, but cited cost to smaller slaughterhouses as a potential barrier to their installation.