U.K. proposes cameras in all English slaughterhouses


The U.K. government has proposed installing closed-circuit cameras to monitor the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses. Cameras would be required in all slaughterhouses across England, anywhere live animals are kept, handled, or killed. Footage would be made available to authorized officers, including government veterinarians, both in real time and for up to ninety days after recording.

The proposal’s stated purpose is to verify animal welfare standards, and prevent “avoidable pain, distress or suffering” during the slaughter process. While if enacted, it would “enable authorized officers to check samples of CCTV footage” and “allow verification of alleged breaches of animal welfare rules,” the proposal does not specify any mechanism to guarantee regular monitoring of footage. Nor would non-governmental organizations or private citizens be given access to the footage, limiting public accountability for the treatment of animals killed for food.

As of 2015, 49% of “red meat” (mammal) slaughterhouses and 71% of “poultry” (bird) slaughterhouses have voluntarily installed closed-circuit cameras. However, without a legal requirement, government officials can only seize footage if they actively suspect animal cruelty violations, and many millions of animals are currently slaughtered without any video documentation of their treatment.

DEFRA, the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is currently accepting public comments on the proposal. Animal welfare organizations and veterinarians are specifically encouraged to weigh in. You can read the full proposal, and submit a comment yourself, by visiting DEFRA’s website before September 21st.

Featured image: pigs headed for slaughter in England. Credit Vladimir Morozov, CC BY-SA 2.0

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