Thank you for your email regarding the inhumane slaughter of animals. As you are probably aware, the UK has some of the highest standards regarding animal welfare and there are strict legal requirements in place. The official veterinarians 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.
The numbers of these cases identified by the FSA for the period from April 2014 to June 2016 were published on the FSA website in August 2016 following a Freedom of Information Act request. The FSA have developed an action plan in regards to animal welfare in slaughterhouses which aims to “Deter, Prevent, Detect, Enforce”. An Animal Welfare Steering Group was set up by the FSA to oversee the delivery of its animal welfare action plan. Defra works closely with the FSA to ensure that the welfare of animals is maintained in all slaughterhouses. There is a wide ranging, systemic programme of animal welfare 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.
You raised three specific points in which I will deal with in turn: I support the introduction of CCTV in all slaughterhouses. The industry should have no objection to this if they are meeting our high standards. I agree that we must bring an end to the slaughter of animals without effective pre-stunning. It is quite clear that this is the right thing to do. Until this is in legislation it is important that meat products contain information on how the animal was slaughtered on the label.
Thank you once again for contacting me, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me if you require any further information.
Derek Thomas MP