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Halal Slaughterhouse at Centre of Animal Cruelty Inquiry

03 February 2015

UK - The Food Standards Agency in the UK has suspended the licences of three slaughtermen at a Halal slaughterhouse in Yorkshire after undercover film showed gross cruelty to animals.

The footage, which was taken over three days in December by the animal rights group Animal Aid, showed sheep being kicked in the face, smashed into solid objects headfirst and picked up and hurled by legs, fleeces, throats and ears.

The film also showed a worker standing on the neck of a conscious sheep, then bouncing up and down and slaughterhouse workers laughing at a sheep bleeding to death with spectacles drawn around her eyes in green paint.

The video also captured a worker holding a sheep by her throat and pulling back a fist as if to punch her and slaughtermen taunting and frightening the sheep by waving knives, smacking them on the head and shouting at them.

Some of the slaughtermen were seen hacking away at the throats of still-conscious sheep.

Animal Aid has reported Bowood Yorkshire Lamb to the Food Standards Agency, which has suspended slaughter licences of three men and is building cases for prosecution.

Kate Fowler, Head of Campaigns at Animal Aid said: “The vicious attacks on defenceless, frightened animals at Bowood are inexcusable.

“All four conveyor operators we filmed over three days abused animals to varying degrees, while the slaughterers looked on unmoved.

“This is the tenth slaughterhouse in which we have filmed undercover, and it is the ninth to be caught breaking animal welfare laws.

“None of the abuses we uncovered would have come to light without our cameras being in place, even though there is a government-appointed vet at each slaughterhouse.

“Since our first investigation in 2009, we have been calling on the government to make independently monitored CCTV cameras compulsory for slaughterhouses, and yet – despite our evidence of widespread, vicious attacks – it resolutely refuses. In doing so, it fails the animals to no lesser an extent than the men who physically beat, kick and abuse them.”

A spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency said: “The Food Standards Agency takes animal welfare at abattoirs very seriously which is why we immediately suspended the licences of the slaughtermen involved.

"There is no excuse for treating animals in the way shown on the video and we are therefore investigating the footage with a view to prosecution.

"We are also continuing to investigate all the circumstances around the incident to ensure proper safeguards are introduced to stop this happening in the future.”

The video revelations come just days after a government e-petition organised by the British Veterinary Association calling for an end to non-stun slaughter reached 100,000 signatures.

The number of signatures now brings into play a government commitment to debate issues raised on e-petitions.

When the petition reached its target of signatures last week BVA President John Blackwell said: “The success of the e-petition reaching 100,000 signatures two months before the deadline shows the strength of public opinion and support for the aims of our campaign. Slaughter without stunning unnecessarily compromises animal welfare at the time of death and as such we call for an end to its practice.

“We urge the Chairman of the Backbench Business Committee to honour the e-petition and pledge that an end to non-stun slaughter will be debated at the first opportunity in the next Parliament.”

TheMeatSite News Desk

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