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Mandatory Welfare Training for Abattoirs

18 May 2012, at 7:35am

AUSTRALIA - The New South Wales Government has announced a tough new animal welfare package to lift animal welfare standards in all domestic abattoirs.

The new animal welfare package is part of the NSW Government’s review of domestic abattoir operations following the incident at Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors in February this year.

“Under the new requirements, each abattoir will be required to designate an Animal Welfare Officer to be present on the premises to monitor and take responsibility for the welfare of animals," said Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson.

"Only employees that have undertaken specific animal welfare officer training will be eligible to be designated”, Ms Hodgkinson said.

The new animal welfare package announced today by the NSW Government will ensure the following measures will be imposed as a condition of the abattoir’s licence:

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  • All domestic abattoirs, by 1 January 2013, are required to designate a trained Animal Welfare Officer to be on the premises while processing is occurring. Only employees that have been trained in the relevant component of the of the MTM11 Australian Meat Industry Training Package will be eligible to be a designated Animal Welfare Officer; -
  • All relevant employees are required to undertake training in the “stunning, sticking and shackling” component of the MTM11 Australian Meat Industry Training Package by 1 July 2013; and -
  • All NSW domestic abattoirs are required to comply with the mandatory adoption of Section 2 of the “Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments preparing meat for human consumption”, 2nd Edition.

“This Government takes non-compliance of food and animal welfare laws extremely seriously, and these tough new measures are being introduced to foster a culture in which abattoir management and employees fully understand and implement procedures that consistently comply with animal welfare standards.

“The NSW Government will also introduce an additional annual audit specifically focussing on animal welfare compliance and develop a sanctions policy to address any non-compliance with these requirements,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

Minister Hodgkinson said the NSW Government had also completed its investigation of Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors and that it will be fined a total of $5,200 for breaching its licence conditions and it will be placed on the Food Authority’s Name & Shame register.

The RSPCA investigation into allegations of animal mistreatment under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA) 1979 is also ongoing and the abattoir could be subject to additional penalties under POCTA for acts of cruelty to animals.

“This Government has listened to community concern about animal welfare standards in domestic abattoirs following the incident at Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors in February this year, and now we’re acting to ensure animal welfare standards in domestic abattoirs are improved”, Ms Hodgkinson said.

The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) has backed the move from the NSW Government.

"The NSW Government’s decision recognises AMIC’s strong support for competency based training of abattoir personnel responsible for the humane treatment of livestock," said AMIC CEO Kevin Cottrill.

"Competency based training is a requirement of AMIC's Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments. In the last three years over 300 personnel nationally have completed animal welfare officer training and each year around 150 new livestock handlers in the meat industry undertake livestock handling training.

"These new arrangements announced by the NSW Government will contribute to the Industry led initiatives to further assist our industry in meeting Australia’s animal welfare laws as well as the standards expected by the community.

"AMIC recognises that the humane treatment of animals, expert animal welfare management and compliance with Australia’s animal welfare regulations is the unconditional expectation of Australian consumers and our customers."