New team of inspectors to make surprise visits to slaughterhouses

Summary

Following a period of bad press for slaughterhouses in Flanders, inspectors trained in animal welfare procures will carry out unannounced visits

Preventing abuse

Following a two-year period peppered with revelations about animal abuse in slaughterhouses, Flemish animal welfare minister Ben Weyts has announced the appointment of a team of inspectors who will carry out surprise visits in meat manufacturing facilities in the region.

In the spring of 2017, a slaughterhouse belonging to the Debra Group was forced to close for two weeks after shocking footage showed abuse of pigs. The industry agreed to a set of reforms proposed by Weyts soon after that.

Later that same year, a cattle slaughterhouse in West Flanders was also shut down temporarily for its inadequate approach to regulations, which caused the animals to suffer needlessly. Last year, a handful of slaughterhouses were condemned for sending meat to market that was not fit for human consumption.

Toughest in Europe

Measures taken since then include more surveillance cameras, more training in animal-handling techniques and an animal welfare officer in every facility. The new team of 25 inspectors will carry out unannounced visits to slaughterhouses in Flanders as a cost of some €3 million per year. This will be in addition to inspections already carried out at the federal level.

“In the past few years, we have had to intervene multiple times when abuse in slaughterhouses came to light,” said Weyts. “I want to better prevent needless suffering by sending inspectors focused  on animal welfare to the slaughterhouses. With 25 inspectors for 70 facilities, we will have one of the most strict systems of oversight in Europe.”

The hiring process for the inspectors will begin in a few weeks, and the team will be up and running by early next year at the latest, said Weyts. “No inspection system will ever be 100% watertight, but I am committed to establishing the most comprehensive oversight process in Europe.”

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