A tough new animal welfare package designed to lift welfare standards in all NSW domestic abattoirs has been launched by the NSW State Government.
Under the new requirements, each abattoir will be required to designate an Animal Welfare Officer to be present on the premises to monitor and take responsibility for the welfare of animals.
Only employees that have undertaken specific AWO training will be eligible.
NSW minister for primary industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, said the new animal welfare package was part of the Government’s review of domestic abattoir operations following an incident at Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors in February this year (see Beef Central’s earlier story “Sydney abattoir faces cruelty claim”).
The new package will ensure a range of measures will be imposed as a condition of each abattoir’s licence. The process will apply from January 1 next year. A Government release this afternooon said, under the program:
- All domestic abattoirs will be required to designate a trained Animal Welfare Officer to be on the premises while processing is occurring. Only employees that have been trained in the relevant component of the of the MTM11 Australian Meat Industry Training Package will be eligible to be a designated Animal Welfare Officer
- All relevant employees are required to undertake training in the “stunning, sticking and shackling” component of the MTM11 Australian Meat Industry Training Package by July 1 next year; and
- All NSW domestic abattoirs are required to comply with the mandatory adoption of Section 2 of the “Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments preparing meat for human consumption”, 2nd Edition.
“This Government takes non-compliance of food and animal welfare laws extremely seriously, and these tough new measures are being introduced to foster a culture in which abattoir management and employees fully understand and implement procedures that consistently comply with animal welfare standards,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
The NSW Government will also introduce an additional annual audit specifically focussing on animal welfare compliance and develop a sanctions policy to address any non-compliance against requirements.
Ms Hodgkinson said the NSW Government had completed its investigation of the Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors incident and that it would be fined $5200 for breaching its licence conditions. The business will also be placed on the Food Authority’s Name & Shame register.
The RSPCA investigation into allegations of animal mistreatment under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is also ongoing and the abattoir could be subjected to additional penalties for acts of cruelty to animals.
AMIC supports move
The Australian Meat Industry Council said this afternoon it supported the NSW Government’s announcement to require and fund animal welfare training in domestic abattoirs across the State.
The NSW Government’s decision recognised AMIC’s strong support for competency-based training of abattoir personnel responsible for the humane treatment of livestock. Competency-based training is a requirement of AMIC's Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments.
In the last three years more than 300 personnel nationally have completed Animal Welfare Officer training and each year around 150 new livestock handlers in the meat industry undertake livestock handling training.
“These new arrangements announced by the NSW Government will contribute to the industry-led initiatives to further assist our industry in meeting Australia’s animal welfare laws as well as the standards expected by the community,” AMIC spokesman Kevin Cottrill said.
“AMIC recognises that the humane treatment of animals, expert animal welfare management and compliance with Australia’s animal welfare regulations is the unconditional expectation of Australian consumers and our customers,” Mr Cottrill said.