Sydney abattoir re-opens under strict conditions

Beef Central, 09/03/2012

Authorities have allowed a Sydney abattoir closed last month following allegations of animal welfare breaches to re-open under strict conditions while an investigation into the incident continues.

The New South Wales Food Authority issued the following press release this afternoon:

The suspension on Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors’ licence has been lifted by the NSW Food Authority, allowing it to recommence operations at its facility in Wilberforce from this Monday (March 12) subject to strict conditions being met.

This follows a review of the abattoir’s processes and relates to the suspension of the abattoir’s licence only. The abattoir has not operated for one month. In order for it to recommence operations the abattoir has been required to demonstrate it will meet strict requirements established by the Authority.

This action has been supported by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI).

The criminal investigation being undertaken by the Authority and the RSPCA into alleged animal mistreatment is ongoing. The abattoir is fully cooperating with this investigation.

As part of its actions to demonstrate why it should be permitted to recommence operations, the abattoir has employed two specialist consultants to oversee processing including a former senior AQIS veterinarian. The business owners have also reviewed and modified the cattle race, and its procedures to move animals up the race, to facilitate animal movement and reduce baulking.

The NSW Food Authority will increase the number of audits and inspections at the abattoir to ensure that it is complying with its food safety program and all relevant legislation. The RSPCA will also be conducting further inspections of the abattoir.

The abattoir has amended its food safety program which includes additional stringent requirements for its stunning and slaughtering procedures and processes. Nationally approved animal welfare training has been completed by all relevant staff and only the slaughtermen who have completed the training will be able to operate at the abattoir.

The abattoir’s owners have also elected to install CCTV cameras inside the abattoir to monitor the treatment of the animals being processed. The company will be responsible for monitoring the CCTV footage on a regular basis and authorities will have access to the footage at times of audit.

RSPCA supports the improvements and additional measures the abattoir has undertaken to date to meet their animal welfare requirements.

The Authority shut down the abattoir’s operations on February 10, 2012 after viewing video footage showing acts of animal mistreatment that allegedly breach the Food Regulation 2010 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.

The welfare of animals in NSW is protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA) 1979 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation which are overseen by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

There are severe penalties under POCTA for aggravated acts of cruelty to animals.

The NSW Food Authority regulates abattoirs in NSW. The Authority is currently reviewing the processes of all other domestic abattoirs in the State and will report in due course. Since February 10, the Authority has inspected all domestic abattoirs operating in NSW, and will maintain an increased inspection program in abattoirs to monitor compliance.

All abattoirs operating in NSW are required to hold a licence and operate in accordance with the Food Regulation 2010. Abattoirs are required to comply with the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production and Transportation of Meat and Meat Products for Human Consumption.


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