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Volume 506: debated on Thursday 4 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the investigations conducted by Animal Aid into practices at slaughterhouses; and if he will take steps to ensure that those establishments adhere to high animal welfare practice standards. (320405)

The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), an Executive agency of the Food Standards Agency, enforces the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 in slaughterhouses on behalf of DEFRA. Animal cruelty within a slaughterhouse is not tolerated by the MHS who take appropriate enforcement action if there are breaches of animal welfare legislation.

Animal Aid passed to the MHS undercover footage taken in four abattoirs during 2009, where CCTV footage appeared to show evidence of animal cruelty by slaughterers at two slaughterhouses. In one of the slaughterhouses a slaughterer has had his licence revoked and the case has been referred for prosecution along with the operator of the plant. In the second two, slaughterers have had their licences revoked and a third slaughterer has been suspended. The case has been referred for investigation with a view to prosecution.