A two-month investigation at an abattoir with government approval has revealed ‘shocking’ animal abuse.
Moreover, the 200 hours of footage uncovers illegalities inside the UK animal agriculture facility. This is despite it holding a ‘generally satisfactory’ rating for six years.
Key findings included piglets appearing to be scalded in a hot water tank whilst still alive, and cows beaten with electric prods.
One particularly distressing scene shows a bull being violently prodded hundreds of times. It was filmed over January and February this year inside the family-owned G & G.B Hewitt Ltd. in Chester, England.
Moreover, the organization behind the investigation is Animal Justice Project – a non-profit working to expose animal exploitation.
They claim an Official Veterinarian was appointed by the Food Standards Agency. Their job is to ‘ensure that all animal welfare requirements are met, to ensure that animals are spared avoidable pain, distress or suffering’.
However, in the footage, the professional is not present in the rooms where animals are killed.This means they will have missed ‘pre-stun shocks on animals, poor handling, failing stun equipment, insufficient stun times, and signs of consciousness’.
Findings have since been sent to the FSA.
The investigation also shows stunning equipment fail, resulting in panicked pigs and sheep.
Moreover, the slaughtering process fell out of the recommended 15 seconds by the Humane Slaughter Association. And, the investigators claim no worker was seen checking for consciousness, displaying yet another breach.
Alick Simmons is a former Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer for the UK government.
In a statement, Simmons said: “There are a number of instances where apparent breaches of the law are shown: incorrect use of electric goads, cattle repeatedly struck with a stick – one appears to be pointed and the law prohibits the use of pointed sticks – a sheep dragged by the horns, severely lame cattle, and one severely lame pig being presented for slaughter.
“Such animals are not fit to be transported. In several instances, immediately after ‘sticking’, slaughtermen are seen to start dressing pig carcasses.
“The law requires that pigs are bled for a minimum of 20 seconds. The overall impression given is of routine poor practice in premises barely fit for purpose.
“The circumstances are made worse by poorly trained and poorly supervised operatives. For example, the handling, stunning, and killing of piglets is barely adequate.
“The stunning equipment appears to fail on several occasions, repeated shouting by the operatives simply adds to the animals’ distress. And, at no time, are operatives seen to monitor the effectiveness of the stun.”
As a result of the footage, Animal Justice Project is calling for an ‘urgent’ independent review of UK slaughterhouses. Additionally, it urges the cessation of public funding under the new Agriculture Bill.
Currently, abattoirs nationwide are eligible for financial aid under the new act. It comes following a wealth of small-scale slaughterhouse closures in the country, with less than 100 left.
Animal Justice Project’s founder Claire Palmer declared the findings both ‘law-breaking’ and ‘extensive’ in suffering and abuse.
This was ‘right under the nose of the vet, and CCTV’, Palmer added.
Now, the charity is calling for the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, to oversee a review.