THE RSPCA has released a detailed report and interactive map that highlights the current state of animal welfare regulation at Australian slaughtering establishments.
The society says the scorecard allows the public to compare, for the first time, the way governments regulate animal welfare in abattoirs, knackeries and poultry processors across the country – a move that will not only increase transparency but also strengthen the push for better and more consistent regulation.
Responding to the release of the RSPCA’s report, the Australian Meat Industry Council this afternoon issued a statement saying it supported the RSPCA’s key recommendation, that the Federal Government develop a national Animal Welfare Standard to replace the Model Code as a priority.
RSPCA Australia chief scientist Dr Bidda Jones said the report and scorecard shone a spotlight on what the organisation saw as significant gaps in animal welfare regulation across the processing industry.
“For a long time, the RSPCA has been concerned about the differences in how Australian slaughtering establishments are regulated between states and territories, and what this means for the welfare of animals at those facilities,” Dr Jones said.
“Voluntary industry standards that go above minimum regulatory requirements can improve animal welfare outcomes when they’re in place. But the public should be able to have confidence that all animals in Australia are handled and slaughtered humanely. With the current regulatory system, having that confidence is not always possible,” she said.
“If we are going to have surety that animal welfare is being upheld at these establishments, then better regulation is how we achieve it. This is crucial to improving the outcomes for Australian farm animals.”
Deficiencies seen in areas like CCTV use
The RSPCA’s report and scorecard examine seven key measures: animal welfare requirements, audit frequency, auditor training, oversight, CCTV use, company training and transparency.
It rates each state’s performance across seven variables, on a score of 1-5.
On specific topics like animal welfare requirements among abattoirs, for example, both NSW and SA score 4 points, Queensland 3 points, and Victoria and Western Australia only 1 point.
On overall measurements on RSPCA’s list, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia score 1.5/5, NSW 3/5, Victoria 2/5, and Tasmania 1/5.
“One thing we believe is clear from this report, and that is that in many areas – such as CCTV use – there’s still a long way to go before we can say that all animals slaughtered at Australian abattoirs, poultry processors or knackeries are handled and killed humanely,” Ms Jones said.
“There’s a lot the public doesn’t know about animal welfare in Australian slaughtering establishments – including even how many animals are being slaughtered. That’s why the RSPCA has released this report and scorecard, to give the community a greater insight into exactly how animal welfare is being regulated at Australian abattoirs, knackeries and poultry processors.
“We urge government and industry to take note of this report and scorecard. The resumption of progress on the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Livestock at Processing Establishments provides a crucial opportunity to put in place measures to genuinely improve animal welfare and meet the community’s expectations.”
AMIC supports National Animal Welfare standard
In December, the Australian Meat Industry Council provided technical feedback on the RSPCA’s ‘Animal welfare in abattoirs, poultry processors and knackeries- regulatory scorecard’ report released today.
Animal welfare is vital to the sustainable operation of processing plants, and processors are committed to high standards when it comes to animal welfare practices across the supply chain, the Council said.
“AMIC’s Australian Livestock Processing Industry Animal Welfare Certification System standards, developed in 2005, go above and beyond current regulatory standards, and AMIC supports the RSPCA’s key recommendation that the Federal Government develop a national Animal Welfare Standard to replace the Model Code as a priority,” the council’s statement said.
“AMIC considers animal welfare to be vital in the sustainable operation of processing establishments and we are committed to proper, stringent and accountable animal welfare practices across the supply chain,” AMIC chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said.
“AMIC strongly agrees with the report recommendation to develop a national Animal Welfare Standard to replace the Model Code as a priority. AMIC participated in the development of the initial draft standards under NSW leadership and for several years AMIC has pursued both Commonwealth and State Regulators to progress the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Livestock at Processing Establishments (Livestock S&G) to implementation,” he said.
- The RSPCA’s report can be accessed here and the map can be accessed here.