September 10 2009 ~ "The MHS have confirmed that these matters are being investigated"
The Worcester office of the SVS - now known as Animal Health - has replied to warmwell's several emails concerning the video showing breach of animal welfare regulations filmed at various abattoirs in Somerset, Cornwall and Derbyshire. Although the AH says that, "Responsibility for the welfare of animals however ultimately lies with the keeper, transporter or abattoir operator" we understand from the MHS that it
"...reacted quickly after seeing the Animal Aid footage and identifying serious breaches of animal welfare regulations in one of the three slaughterhouses filmed....one slaughter man has had his licence suspended. In response to the footage in the other two slaughterhouses, the MHS identified a number of areas for improvement within one of them and the slaughterhouse operator is taking a proactive approach in implementing them." They say that there seemed nothing to take exception to in the third slaughterhouse filmed, adding again that since "the scale and complexity of the work the MHS regulates means we cannot inspect every animal and bird at the point of slaughter and under EU regulations, full responsibility for animal welfare and food safety rests with the operators of slaughterhouses."
September 10 2009 ~ What plans they has the government for further regulating United Kingdom abattoirs?
In March 1997 there were 715 abattoirs. In March this year there were only 369. Long journeys and insensitive handling means that animals can arrive stressed and dirty. Abattoirs can cut corners to save money, and through ignorance, bad conditions or simple brutality, slaughter can be cruelly carried out. (See below.) Disease can spread fast. Over a decade ago EU legislation required veterinarians to do inspections but the UK officiously interpreted this as "veterinary surgeons" to replace the local meat inspectors (as if anyone who had trained for so long to protect animal health would be the right person to work full time in overseeing their death.)
When in 2001, Bob Kennard of Graig Farm Organics and the Suffolk farmer Caroline Cranbrook ran the campaign to keep small slaughter houses open, one victory was the changing of charges from per hour to charging per head of livestock ( in-line with the rest of the EU).Many smaller meat plants saw their charges fall by up to 90%. On 6 July 2009
Lord Dykes (Lords Hansard)
"... Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for further regulating United Kingdom abattoirs. " The answer:
"....Under the new charging arrangements abattoirs will be charged a percentage of the time costs of meat hygiene official controls carried out at their premises. The change will not increase charges for businesses if official control time remains unchanged and will provide an incentive for businesses to improve standards and compliance and to use official control resources as effectively as possible."Could any warmwell reader explain what this change means for the remaining small abattoirs and for small farms and smallholders?
September 10 2009 ~ Four years before any improvement?
The same answer revealed that
"Changes to the legislation regulating the welfare of animals in United Kingdom abattoirs will be required when the regulation applies in January 2013" The welfare of animals in UK abattoirs will be considered only in four years time when EU regulations change? And, as we have so often regretted, changes in regulations demanded by the EU do not necessarily mean that things will improve.