Meat industry reacts to abattoir CCTV consultation
Following the news that Defra has opened a consultation to make CCTV mandatory in English slaughterhouses, industry has pointed out that many abattoirs already have CCTV, as well as raising concerns about workers being treated differently to employees in other industries – including hospitals and care homes.
The British Meat Processors Association’s chief executive, Nick Allen, highlighted that “many abattoirs have had CCTV in place for some time now and regard it as the norm”, noting that “it gives the customer confidence”.
However, he stressed that there is “much thought that needs to go into how CCTV is utilised to maximise the benefits”, adding that it is important that training and proper and correct protocols are put in place.
He explained: “Simply installing CCTV in itself is not a solution in its own right if it is not used correctly. The industry has been working with the FSA to establish the best way to maximise the benefits, a training package has already been agreed with the FSA and it is being rolled out.
“We will continue to do work with the FSA on CCTV knowing that this will give the consumer greater confidence in our produce.”
The head of policy at the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, Norman Bagley, also commented that CCTV is already used by the majority of abattoirs, adding that the association “strongly supports the use of CCTV in abattoirs as a valuable tool for management and training”.
However, he pointed out that the presence of officials in person in areas where live animals are handled “confers immeasurably more benefit than officials remotely monitoring from offices elsewhere”.
“It is a risk that FSA officials could be diverted from positive input on welfare by CCTV,” he added.
Bagley also voiced concerns about the rights of abattoir staff, adding: “We do not believe they deserve to be subjected to constant scrutiny without their consent when other workers, for example, in hospitals and care homes, are not subject to continuous CCTV monitoring by prosecuting authorities.
“We believe it is essential to ensure that abattoir workers are treated no differently from workers in other industries and all other citizens.”
AHDB Beef and Lamb strategy director, Laura Ryan, said: “The UK already has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, the Defra consultation will gain important feedback from industry on the proposal for the mandatory use of CCTV in all abattoirs.
“We will support our levy payers through the consultation and the introduction of any changes when the outcome has been decided.”