CCTV in slaughterhouses (December 2016)

Thank you for contacting me about the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses.

I know from conversations with Ministers and Officials at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that the Government shares my own commitment to maintaining high standards of animal welfare at slaughter. Consequently there are strict legal requirements already in place. In slaughterhouses, these requirements are monitored and enforced by Official Veterinary Officers of the Food Standards Agency to ensure that animals are spared unnecessary suffering, distress or pain during the slaughter process.

CCTV, as with other monitoring methods, does have limitations and relies on businesses to monitor their own operations appropriately. As part of the Government's ongoing consideration of this issue, the committee that advises it on farm animal welfare has reviewed the effectiveness of CCTV in verifying the welfare of animals in slaughterhouses. I feel it would be a mistake if we relied only on CCTV rather than inspections. 

The committee's report did not recommend legislation to make CCTV mandatory, however it did express the view that CCTV may be beneficial to animal welfare. I am pleased to note that the Food Standards Agency estimates that 94 per cent of slaughtered cattle, 96 per cent of pigs, 90 per cent of sheep and 99 per cent of poultry are now processed on premises with CCTV, and the Government is keen to see the minority of abattoirs still without any form of CCTV move quickly to introduce it. 

I am afraid that I was unable to attend the debate due to other parliamentary business but, as someone with a keen interest in the provenance of my food, I will follow any developments.

Thank you again for taking the time to email me and please do not hesitate to contact me about any other matter I might be able to assist with.

(December 2016)