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Letters to the Independent November 2010

CCTV vital in slaughterhouses

I once asked a vet who had worked in a slaughterhouse whether he had encountered any sensitive, animal-caring people working there. His answer: "Some sensitive people go into that environment, but no sensitive people come out of it".

In the spirit of Johann Hari's brilliant tell-it-like-it-is article about farm-animal slaughter ("The religious excuse for barbarity", 19 November), isn't it time we faced the fact that the only way normal people employed by any type of slaughterhouse could possibly cope with cutting animals' throats all day would be to detach themselves from all feelings for the animals? Otherwise they would go mad. In self defence man quickly becomes habituated to routine cruelty.

Hence we need the very strictest controls; obligatory CCTV cameras everywhere. And, just as essential, open access to their footage by animal-welfare organisations like Animal Aid. As long as animals are slaughtered in secret needless suffering will continue.

Audrey Eyton


Johann Hari is right to highlight our weird attitude to animal cruelty. This has been underlined by recent headlines. A lady, suffering a brief psychotic episode, popped a cat into a wheelie-bin for a few hours and the shock?horror response raged round the planet. Hundreds of millions of farm animals kept in worse-than-gulag conditions every year; unbearably crammed into slaughterhouse waiting-rooms during their entire short lives raises hardly a murmur.

A bird in a cage might put all heaven in a rage, but to us it just means chicken jalfrezi.

Jim McCluskey

Twickenham, Middlesex

Johann Hari's assertion that halal meat is "served unlabelled and as standard meat on all British Airways flights" is incorrect.

Halal meat is not used in the production of standard meals served on board British Airways flights. A range of special meal options is available on request. One of these special options is halal, and these meals are labelled appropriately.

The confusion may have arisen from a recent media report claiming that one of British Airways' catering suppliers, Gate Gourmet, was considering moving to all-halal meal production.

However, British Airways has no plans to change its menus or to make all of its meals halal-compliant and has not entered into any discussions with Gate Gourmet on the matter.

Mark Hassell

Head of Customer Experience, British Airways, Harmondsworth, Middlesex