3 Feb 2015

Secret film shows ‘extreme cruelty’ in slaughterhouse

Workers at a slaughterhouse in Yorkshire are suspended after hidden cameras capture them apparently mistreating animals intended for halal consumption.

Four workers at a slaughterhouse in Yorkshire have had their licences suspended after hidden cameras captured the mistreatment of animals at a halal abattoir.

One worker has been sacked following the secret exposure, according to the BBC.

Secret filming by campaign group Animal Aid captured what it called “extreme cruelty” carried out by slaughtermen towards sheep killed for halal meat.

The footage appears to show sheep being kicked in the face, smashed headfirst into solid barriers and picked up and hurled by the legs.

Workers at the Bowood Yorkshire Lamb slaughterhouse in Thirsk, North Yorkshire also appear to jeer and taunt the sheep with knives.

‘No excuse’

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched an investigation into the footage, saying there was “no excuse for treating animals in the way shown on the video”. It said prosecutions could follow.

Animal Aid’s footage apparently shows one worker hacking and sawing at animals’ throats, contravening Islamic practice. One worker took up to five attempts to sever blood vessels of one animal.

Withholding release of the footage would be a betrayal of our key mission Animal Aid

The law requires abattoirs to stun animals before slaughter to prevent unnecessary suffering, but there are exemptions for Jewish and Muslim producers.

Under the halal code, animals are supposed to be killed quickly, with a single sweep of a surgically-sharp knife. The animal should not see the knife before they are slaughtered, or witness the death of other animals.

The secret footage appears to show these rules were not followed at Bowood, where more than 4,000 sheep were filmed being killed.

Kate Fowler, head of campaigns at Animal Aid, said the scenes were “inexcusable”.

Vet supervision

Under UK law, slaughtered animals that have not been stunned must remain in position for at least 20 seconds after their throats are cut to ensure they lose consciousness.

But 86 per cent of the sheep at Bowood were moved before that amount of time had passed, some in as little as one second, according to Animal Aid.

Government-appointed vets are supposed to be on hand in all abattoirs the size of Bowood, but none was seen during the three days of filming, Animal Aid said.

The group is calling for independently monitored CCTV cameras to be compulsory at slaughterhouses.

The FSA said it “takes animal welfare at abattoirs very seriously, which is why we immediately suspended the licences of the slaughtermen involved”.

Asked about the allegations, William Woodward, one of the abattoir’s directors, said: “We have no comment to make.”

Animal Aid said it recognised there was a risk of the video provoking up anti-Muslim feeling, but added: “Withholding release of the footage would be a betrayal of our key mission: to expose and combat animal cruelty.”