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CCTV will be required in all areas where live animals are present, with unrestricted access to footage for Official Veterinarians.
In addition, the Government has also announced that it will be modernising statutory animal welfare codes to reflect enhancements in medicines, technology and the latest research and advice from veterinary surgeons. The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat.
Consultations on these proposals have been launched this morning (https://consult.defra.gov.uk/farm-animal-welfare/cctv-in-slaughterhouses/ and https://consult.defra.gov.uk/animal-health-and-welfare/code-of-practice-for-the-welfare-of-meat-chickens/)
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: "We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and the actions I am setting out today will reinforce our status as a global leader.
"As we prepare to leave the EU, these measures provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that our food is produced to the very highest standards."
BVA President Gudrun Ravetz said: "Today’s announcement is extremely welcome. We have been campaigning on this issue for a number of years and this announcement represents a huge win for animal health and welfare in England.
"Mandatory CCTV in all areas of slaughterhouses will provide an essential tool in fostering a culture of compassion that could help safeguard animal welfare and we are particularly pleased to see a commitment to Official Veterinarians having unrestricted access to footage.
"Vets' independence and unique qualifications help ensure that the UK will continue to have the highest standards of animal health, welfare and food safety.
"We recognise that the cost of installing CCTV may be a burden for some very small abattoirs, but it is important that the animals we farm for food have both a good life and a humane death and CCTV has a key role to play in ensuring these requirements are met."
Gudrun added: "We welcome the consultation to update welfare codes for farmed animals and pets, many of which are in urgent need of updating to reflect the latest animal welfare science and good practice. We are keen to see Defra working with the veterinary profession, industry and all relevant stakeholders to ensure vital welfare codes are brought up to date."
John Tasker of the British Veterinary Poultry Association said: "BVPA are committed to supporting research and implementation of best practice in all aspects of poultry production, including welfare on farm and in the abattoir. We look forward to cooperating fully with Defra in development and implementation of these new initiatives. The British poultry industry has some of the highest welfare standards in the world and seeks to continually update and refine its practices in the light of new research, and to maintain public confidence in the industry."
Photo: Lititz, Pennsylvania. Hoisting a slaughtered steer in Benjamin Lutz's slaughterhouse, 1942. Wikipedia.
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