Tielt slaughterhouse re-opens with camera surveillance

Summary

Flanders’ animal rights minister has allowed the slaughterhouse in West Flanders – closed since last month because of abuse of pigs – to re-open

Strict measures

Flemish minister for animal welfare Ben Weyts has approved the re-opening of the Debra-Group slaughterhouse in Tielt, West Flanders. The government had closed down the slaughterhouse and pork products producer last month after undercover footage revealed shocking mistreatment of pigs (pictured).

Debra-Group sought a suspension of closure with the Council of State, which was rejected. The company then presented Weyts with a plan that it said would prevent such incidents from occurring again. Weyts agreed to lift the closure order, and the facility re-opened yesterday.

“A great relief,” said Debra-Group CEO Thomas De Roover. “After discussions with the ministry, we’ve been given a second chance.”

Among the measures contained in the plan is live camera surveillance, which can be viewed by inspectors at any time. The company is also required to hire an animal welfare officer and to increase its inspections of its stunning devices, used to sedate the animals before slaughter.

Debra-Group must also operate an animal abuse zero-tolerance policy for its employees and suppliers. Slaughterhouse staff will also receive training from experts from the Thomas More University College on handling animals, and the college will also carry out independent inspections.

“We will be closely following the situation in the Tielt slaughterhouse,” Weyts said. “We will not hesitate to step in again if that appears to be necessary.” Despite the permission to re-open, the slaughterhouse is still the subject of an investigation by the prosecutor’s office in Bruges for possible criminal offences.

In related news, Weyts’ ban on slaughter without stunning – administering an electric shock so the animal feels no pain – has been described as “the worst crisis since the Second World War” by Philippe Markiewicz, chair of the Central Israeli Consistory of Belgium.

Members of the Muslim and Jewish communities are required to slaughter animals without stunning them first, referred to as “ritual slaughter”. Markiewicz pointed out that one of the first acts of the Nazi party in Germany was to ban ritual slaughter.