The New South Wales Government has pledged to ramp up random inspections of abattoirs, following the shutdown of slaughtering operations over animal welfare complaints at a western Sydney abattoir last week.
The NSW Government suspended operations at the Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors plant at Wilberforce after the NSW Food Authority received footage which allegedly showed gross mistreatment of animals at the facility.
Some of the footage, which was reported to have been secretly filmed inside the abattoir, was broadcast on ABC Lateline last week. It showed pigs being beaten over the head with iron bars multiple times before slaughter.
The NSW Food Authority said the footage it received showed slaughter of sheep, cattle, goats and pigs that allegedly breached the Food Regulation 2010 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.
“The NSW Government, like the people of NSW is horrified by the video footage of mistreatment of animals at this abattoir,” NSW minister for primary industries Katrina Hodgkinson said.
“Starting immediately, strict measures, including additional unannounced audits and inspections, will be ramped up to ensure all domestic abattoirs in NSW are aware of their responsibility to comply with standards under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA) 1979 and the Food Regulation 2010.
“Animal welfare is a key requirement of abattoir operations and the meat industry has supported this with nationally accredited animal welfare training.
“The NSW Food Authority will today send a formal notice to all NSW domestic abattoirs, reminding them of their obligations and responsibilities in ensuring the humane treatment of animals.
“I want to assure the people of NSW that the NSW Government takes animal welfare very seriously.
“The action to immediately shut down this facility yesterday demonstrates that the NSW Government will not hesitate in taking swift and decisive action when it comes to gross mistreatment of animals.
“I have directed the NSW Food Authority to step up their random audits and inspections so that consumers and farmers have confidence in the operation of domestic abattoirs across the State.
“The investigation of the Wilberforce abattoir is progressing and I will receive a full report upon its completion,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
The welfare of animals in NSW is protected under the POCTA and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation which are overseen by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.