Slaughterhouse accused of 'unbearable cruelty' closes
AN Essex slaughterhouse has been forced to close after secret filming inside it by animal welfare campaigners led to allegations of serious cruelty towards pigs.
A and G Barber, of Purleigh, used to kill a quarter of all cull sows in the UK. Its main buyer, said to be a German sausage manufacturer, cancelled its contract after viewing the footage, forcing the abattoir to close.
The abattoir was one of a number exposed in secret filming by Animal Aid earlier this year. The animal welfare group said the film, shot over three days in April, showed scenes of ‘extreme and deliberately-inflicted suffering’, including use of electric tongs on animals’ snouts, tails and in their mouths.
It said other breaches filmed include ‘incompetent and inadequate stunning’ for most of the 767 pigs filmed, stunned pigs left to regain consciousness, and pigs being routinely kicked in the face and hit in the face with shackle hooks.
One worker and the slaughterhouse operator still face prosecution.
Kate Fowler, Animal Aid’s head of campaign, criticised the failure of the regulatory system to pick up the abuses at an abattoir where veterinary inspectors were in attendance.
“It is appalling that the cruelties meted out to animals at A&G Barber were allowed to continue and that all regulatory systems failed to detect and stop the abuses,” she said.
“If Animal Aid hadn’t happened to film at the plant, we believe that workers would still be kicking, beating and causing deliberate suffering to pigs there. It is right and proper that companies who have seen our film shunned A&G Barber.”
Animal Aid has covertly filmed inside seven randomly chosen red meat slaughterhouses since January 2009. In six of the seven, it claims to have recorded ‘breaches of animal welfare laws and avoidable animal suffering’.
A Government-industry group formed by the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA) to address issues raised by the filming has proposed changes to the way staff are monitored in abattoirs.
The group fell short of accepting calls by Animal Aid and other campaigners for compulsory CCTV in abattoirs.
But it agreed that plant operators and Official Veterinarians must have effective procedures in place either to constantly monitor stunning and slaughter operations, or to enable them to ‘inconspicuously observe’ them ‘at any time’.
These arrangements may include an aperture or window into the stunning area or the use of CCTV, the group agreed.