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CCTV Encouraged in Slaughterhouses

by 5m Editor
9 November 2011, at 9:23am

UK - The British Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to encourage slaughterhouses to use CCTV to monitor animal welfare in their plants.

A paper to be presented to the FSA Board next week encourages CCTV as part of a range of safeguards to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare.

The FSA says it continues to work with businesses and meat industry representatives to encourage voluntary installation of CCTV as best practice.

In addition, the FSA is currently gathering a body of evidence from a range of sources, including those businesses that already use CCTV, to determine the benefits of CCTV.

The FSA said that it is encouraged though that the number of businesses with CCTV in place for animal welfare has more than doubled since June 2010.

In June 2010, about seven per cent of slaughterhouses had CCTV installed for monitoring animal welfare in the stunning/slaughter area, with eight per cent having CCTV in place for monitoring animal welfare in other areas.

This accounted for 13 per cent of cattle, 16 per cent of sheep, 42 per cent of pigs and 40 per cent of poultry processed during the period April to June 2010.

In September 2011, the FSA gathered information on the further uptake of CCTV has changed since June 2010. The number of establishments with CCTV in place for animal welfare has more than doubled.

There are now 19 per cent of red meat slaughterhouses with CCTV in place to monitor animal welfare. These account for around 48 per cent of red meat volume over the period July 2010 to July 2011, and 29 per cent of white meat slaughterhouses. These account for 59 per cent of poultry volume in the same period.

These increases have been driven in part by individual businesses and in part by the major retailers, both independently and through their assurance schemes. Asda, Morrisons, J Sainsbury, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Iceland, The Co-operative and Waitrose all now require CCTV monitoring of animals at slaughter throughout their supply chains.

In the report to be discussed next week, the FSA says: "Businesses who have CCTV in place are keen to demonstrate to our officials the highest standards to which their operatives work and have not provided any resistance to FSA officials viewing footage when requested.

"This is evidenced by the visits which senior FSA officials have recently undertaken in order to gather evidence for this paper. At each establishment with CCTV, access to footage was provided and monitoring systems demonstrated."

The FSA said it would consider that, where CCTV is in place for monitoring animal welfare, certain simple best practice guidelines should be followed.

These include:

  • CCTV should be monitored on a daily basis both by FSA OVs and the business. Where this is not happening, we are reminding OVs and businesses to do this;
  • Daily checks should be undertaken on a regular basis, but at different times, and should be part of the OV's ongoing checks of business compliance. Similarly, the business' checks should be part of their own internal verification procedures;
  • Checks should be at a frequency associated with the potential risk of non-compliance for each particular practice undertaken; for example, gas killing of poultry has less potential for adverse practices than group stunning of pigs or lambs;
  • Checks should also be risk based on the known compliance of the business with welfare legislation and recognised best practices;
  • Where monitoring of CCTV footage by FSA regulatory officials indicates potential evidence for enforcement action, that footage should be retained for a sufficient period from the date it was taken to enable proper investigation and, if appropriate, enforcement action to be taken;
  • CCTV footage should be made available to officials in the course of enforcement.
  • CCTV footage should be used for the training of new slaughtermen, and
  • CCTV footage should be used in the training of new OVs and Meat Hygiene Inspectors.