New animal welfare measures approved for slaughterhouses

Summary

Following a video released of abuse of pigs in a West Flanders slaughterhouse, the industry and minister Ben Weyts have agreed to a set of reforms

More surveillance

Flemish minister for animal welfare Ben Weyts (pictured) and slaughterhouse industry federation Febev have agreed on a set of reforms to improve the conditions for animals in slaughterhouses. The package follows the release of video footage showing extreme abuse of pigs in the Debra-Group slaughterhouse in Tielt, West Flanders.

The government closed down the facility for about two weeks following the release of the video in March. The slaughterhouse, the third-largest in the country, was allowed to re-open under a set of strict conditions, including streaming video that could be consulted by animal welfare inspectors at any time.

Some of those ideas re-surface in the latest package of measures. Camera surveillance has been increased, and each slaughterhouse’s animal welfare officer (AWO) – an employee of the company rather than an external functionary – will have access to all images. The AWO is also given a more extensive and more independent role.

The package also requires slaughterhouses in Flanders to be subject to an audit by the end of this year, carried out by an independent external partner from the Thomas More University College. The package also includes more training for slaughterhouse employees.

“I am glad that the industry is taking part in this operation by bringing forward concrete measures to improve animal welfare,” Weyts said. “The scandal in Tielt was a stain on the reputation of all slaughterhouses. The sector itself has an interest in supporting a thorough screening.”

Photo courtesy BenWeyts.be