Plans highlight strength of public feeling, Gove says
CCTV is to become compulsory in all slaughterhouses in England next year, environment secretary Michael Gove has confirmed.
Defra said that it is going ahead with the plans after an ‘extremely positive reaction’ from welfare groups, industry bodies and the public.
In August, the government launched a consultation on plans for mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses in England, in all areas where animals are present. As part of these plans, Official Veterinarians (OVs) would be given unrestricted access to the footage, reassuring consumers that high welfare standards are being enforced.
The legislation will be introduced in the New Year, coming into force in the spring. All slaughterhouses will be required to comply following an adjustment period of up to six months.
A summary of responses, published today (12 November), shows that more than 99 per cent of respondents to the consultation were supportive of the plans.
Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and want to cement our status as a global leader by continuing to raise the bar.
“The reaction to this consultation highlights the strength of feeling among the public that all animals should be treated with the utmost respect at all stages of life and be subject to the highest possible welfare standards.
“These strong measures also provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that as we leave the EU we continue to produce our food to the very highest standards.”
Defra states that the proposals will give the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and OVs unrestricted access to the last 90 days of footage to help them monitor welfare standards. If breaches are found, a slaughterhouse can be given a welfare enforcement notice, have its staff’s licences suspended or revoked, or be referred for a criminal investigation.
Welcoming the announcement, BVA senior vice president Gudrun Ravetz said: “The mandatory installation of CCTV is a vital tool to ensure high standards of animal health, welfare and food safety in all slaughterhouses.
“Official Veterinarians carry out an essential role in slaughterhouses by independently assessing and reporting breaches of animal welfare, and unrestricted access to CCTV footage will allow them to carry out this role even more effectively.
“We have been campaigning for these measures for a number of years and it is reassuring to see such a high level of support for their implementation from industry and the public.”
FSA chairman Heather Hancock added: “The Secretary of State’s decision to require CCTV in all slaughterhouses is a welcome step towards ensuring that animal welfare and hygiene standards are met across the meat industry.
“Last year, the FSA Board concluded that, without mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses, we would see minimal further progress in businesses improving animal welfare or complying with official controls to protect public health.
“We look forward to working with the industry as CCTV plans are implemented, and to seeing public confidence rise as a result.”
The government are now set to discuss the details of bringing in the proposals and will present draft legislation to Parliament as soon as Parliamentary time allows.