Tielt slaughterhouse closed after graphic video footage released


A major pork processing facility in West Flanders has been closed following undercover footage of severe animal rights violations

‘Enormous negative impact for sector’

Flemish animal welfare minister Ben Weyts has ordered an immediate stop to all activities at the Debra-Group slaughterhouse in Tielt, West Flanders, after the release of video footage by a group called Animal Rights.

The graphic undercover video shows pigs being kicked and beaten and having their throats cut without being stunned, which is illegal in Flanders. Other pigs are shown being plunged into boiling water while still alive.

“From the images, we are able to determine dozens of breaches of animal welfare laws,” Weyts said. “Inspectors will compile a dossier, which I will pass on to the prosecutor for further action.”

The slaughterhouse is the third-largest in the country, handling 3,800 pigs a day. Debra-Group management said it would carry out an internal investigation.

“In the film a number of procedural breaches are filmed and edited together as a single report,” a spokesperson for the group said. “This delivers a mass of images that could give the viewer the impression that this is current working practice. It is not.”

“The negative impact for our sector is enormous,” said Bart Vergote of the farmers’ union ABS. “Our image had improved over recent years thanks to the efforts of so many pig farmers who were proud to allow consumers an insight into their businesses via social media or open-door days. That improvement has been undone today.”

Photo: Debra Group