A CALL for mandatory video surveillance in meat processing plants has been rejected by peak processor body the Australian Meat Industry Council.
Following an ABC 7.30 Report on legal gas stunning of pigs and a break-in by animal activists at a Benalla abattoir this week, a group of animal rights bodies has called for mandatory closed circuit television or CCTV systems in all Australian abattoirs.
The Australian Alliance for Animals today released its open letter to AMIC and Australian Pork Limited calling for their support for mandatory use of CCTV in abattoirs, as part of the ongoing review of the national Standards and Guidelines for the Welfare of Animals at Slaughter Establishments.
AMIC has responded that while it supports the voluntary installation of CCTV systems as a management tool, it does not support it as a mandatory requirement.
“AMIC supports the voluntary installation of CCTV as an individual plant management tool to monitor animal welfare practices, but good animal welfare outcomes are sustained via the implementation of well-defined Standard Operating Procedures, undertaken by highly trained staff in our members’ facilities.
“Such procedures and assurances of staff competency form the foundation of AMIC’s independently audited and widely adopted Industry Animal Welfare Certification System (AAWCS),” the peak body said in a statement.
“The implementation of CCTV will never replace these important competency and procedural principles.
“In addition to the lack of evidence that CCTV in processing facilities results in better animal welfare outcomes, AMIC does not support mandatory CCTV due to a wide array of concerns, including privacy, cyber security, potential misrepresentation, misuse of footage in case of a data breach, and added cost imposed on industry and regulators,” AMIC said.
AMIC said that over the last eighteen months, it has engaged in good faith with government and animal welfare groups to develop the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Livestock Processing Establishments – a national standard to consistently regulate animal welfare at the processing establishments across all the state and territory jurisdictions.
“Industry continues to support this process, which is based on the latest science and global best practice, as the means to achieve animal welfare regulatory reform.
“It is disappointing to see welfare groups bypassing this process to take advantage of recent media covering trespass breaches by animal rights extremists,” AMIC said.
“Well-designed standards and regulations proactively address the core causes of rare animal welfare incidents.
“AMIC and our membership consider 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.”
CCTV should be rolled out nationally – Alliance for Animals
Alliance for Animals policy director Dr Jed Goodfellow said it was time the industry showed the Australian public that it was as committed to animal welfare and transparency as it claims.
“We hear a lot from meat and livestock industry groups about how committed they are to transparency.
“Introducing CCTV as a regulatory requirement with third-party monitoring would be a very real and practical way for them demonstrate that commitment to the Australian community,” he said.
“Australians care deeply about the welfare of animals and they want assurances that animals are being treated humanely.
“Each year over 5 million pigs, 9 million cattle, 28 million sheep and 700 million chickens are slaughtered in Australian abattoirs, so the potential benefits of using CCTV to reduce the risk of poor handling and inhumane killing are significant,” Dr Goodfellow said.
The alliance said the United Kingdom, Israel, Spain and several local jurisdictions in Europe have recently implemented CCTV systems and it is also a regulatory requirement in Queensland for facilities that slaughter horses.
Dr Goodfellow said it was time for CCTV to be rolled out nationally as a regulatory requirement in all facilities that slaughter animals.
“This is a reasonable, common-sense measure that would help improve standards at abattoirs and give the Australian community greater confidence that the welfare of animals is being monitored.”
Being a meat eater,I want to know if the animal I eat has died painlessly.
To counter the non meat bodies ,a transparent system to monitor the killing would go along way to allay a counter view.
In any case,the meat industry needs to lift its game, or we will all be eating fake meat. It is a strong lobby and vested interests are behind it.
Responsible abattoir owners will run CCTV on the kill floor for animal welfare and management reasons. However, there is a third and more important reason – so livestock producers who sell weight and grade can see the treatment of their carcasses up until the weigh scales.
Standard carcass has never worked as it is in the abattoir’s best interest to trim as much as possible from the carcass. When AMH was formed those many years ago, there was a different standard carcass definition applying in each abattoir. Today mobile work stands and whizard knives operating before the scales make the job so much easier. Producers own the carcass and all fall up until the scales.
Members of ABA and ACIC advocate for CCTV on the kill floor so they can inspect the processing of their animals. While some may say fat has little value, any trimmed before the scales has full carcass value and is an immediate loss to the producer. Kill floor inspections by producers were encouraged in the past but not so much now.
This is an issue for the rebadged CCA to advocate for but unlikely given the influence processors have over the new board. Transparency is needed and for AMIC to say “trust us” is inappropriate when they control the whizard knives. No responsible abattoir owners need CCTV on the kill floor to demonstrate trust to their livestock suppliers.
Australian Cattle Industry Council
Why did the ABC broadcast, interview and entertain footage illegally obtained by trespassers?
This is disappointing. Without CCTV in modern well run abattoirs the only footage people will see of animals being slaughtered are from sub standard facilities or when things go wrong or are staged, and they will think that is normal.
Same thing happened when Elders didn’t let the ABC into their meatworks in Indonesia so the only footage shown on 4Corners was the bad stuff.