Closed-circuit cameras to be mandatory in English abattoirs

Cameras to be made compulsory in England's poultry and other slaughterhouses to protect animal welfare.

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Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is to be mandatory in all slaughterhouses in England under proposals published by the U.K. government as part of wider plans to raise animal welfare standards.

CCTV will be required in all areas where there are live animals, and footage must be made available to official veterinarians. The government has also confirmed that, starting with the broiler welfare code, it will modernize all statutory welfare codes to reflect enhancements in medicines, technology and the latest advice from veterinarians.

Making CCTV mandatory has been broadly welcomed by industry and welfare groups alike, but for the majority of the U.K. poultry industry will not mean a great deal of change. Major retailers in the U.K. have been requiring their meat suppliers to operate CCTV in their abattoirs since at least the start of the decade, and more than 70 percent of white meat slaughterhouses in England and Wales had CCTV in 2016, far higher than in the red meat sector.

However, it does move the use of cameras from being voluntary to mandatory. The country’s Food Standard’s Agency has noted that voluntary operation of CCTV has “plateaued.”

Broad welcome, but concerns persist

The British Veterinary Association has commented that mandatory CCTV in all areas of slaughterhouses will provide an essential tool in “fostering a culture of compassion” that could help to safeguard animal welfare, and has expressed its pleasure that veterinarians will have unrestricted access to footage.

Despite the broad welcome for the proposals, currently out for consultation, there have been some concerns. Fears have been expressed that workers’ rights may be compromised, while others have argued that cameras should not be used as an excuse to reduce the number of veterinary inspectors operating in the country.

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