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FVE calls for tougher slaughterhouse controls
Ongoing competition for low food prices is having a detrimental impact on the way in which animals are kept and treated, FVE warned.
Organisation raises awareness of difficulties faced by OVs
 
The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) is calling for tougher controls on slaughterhouses following reports of serious abuse of pigs at a Belgian slaughterhouse.

Such cases of severe, apparently repeated animal cruelty are ‘totally unacceptable’ but unfortunately ‘not unique’, the organisation said in a statement. FVE believes such cases of animal cruelty are likely to be the consequence of ‘a serious failure in the system, with weaknesses at all levels of the chain of responsibility’.

It also said it wished to point out the ‘difficult situation’ faced by many Official Veterinarians working in slaughterhouses.

‘Too often we receive signals that they are under pressure and insufficiently supported by the responsible hierarchy. We also receive reports that physically they are often not able to inspect the many places that need to be controlled.’

The authorities and institutions responsible for inspection and control need to re-think the way in which they deliver their responsibilities, FVE added, as it reiterated its concerns about the ongoing trend for reducing the number of controls of OVs.

‘Handing over crucial inspection tasks - such as checking the health and welfare of the animals before slaughtering - from the independent Official Veterinarian to slaughterhouse personnel - will put at risk animal health and welfare and consequently consumers’ protection throughout Europe.’

Retailers and consumers must also understand that food prices should be realistic; ongoing competition for low prices is having a detrimental impact on the way in which animals are kept and treated, FVE warned. This can compromise the safety of meat products and lead to food fraud. FVE called for more emphasis on quality, including animal welfare, and stressed that raising awareness, promoting good practice and setting standards are crucial.

In addition, the federation believes there is an urgent need for awareness, training and engagement among all those involved in the transportation and slaughter of animals.

‘At every stage in the process the animals must be considered and treated as sentient beings, able to appreciate fear, to feel pain and to suffer. They shall never be treated as objects without feelings.’

FVE called on the EU and Member States authorities and private parties:
  • To increase the supervision and the enforcement of Official Controls along the
  • whole of the food chain. Derogations shall not be allowed;
  • To improve the treatment of animals destined for slaughter and food safety;
  • To encourage a higher priority in both the private and public sectors to improve
  • their performance and responsibilities.

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New app to improve street dog welfare

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 A new free app will support vital work in clinics caring for stray dogs around the world, experts say. Created by the University of Edinburgh, the tool allows vets to track the wellbeing of dogs going through catch-neuter-return schemes, which are common in countries with large numbers of strays.

Vets say the welfare of individual dogs can be overlooked during the process of capture, transport or surgery. The app, piloted across Asia and Africa, helps staff to monitor welfare, spot signs of distress and develop strategies to improve care. It was launched at BSAVA Congress on Friday 6 April.  

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Defra has created a new information service to offer farm to fork traceability when the UK leaves the EU. The Livestock Information Service, which is set to be operational from 2019, will identify and track animal movements via electronic IDs, meaning the industry and government are better placed to respond in the event of a disease outbreak.

Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “This service will be instrumental in improving traceability and providing guarantees to consumers about the origin of their food. NFU President Minette Batters, among others, has helped lead the way on this, showing how it will drive a progressive and vibrant livestock industry once we leave the EU.”