The announcement that CCTV will become mandatory in all slaughterhouses in England under new plans has been welcomed by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

The plans were revealed by the UK’s Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, earlier today.

It is hoped that the proposals will provide unrestricted access to footage to the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) official vets (OVs), in order to reassure consumers that the UK’s high welfare standards are being met.

The consultation on the proposals is set to run for a 6-week period and it will close on September 21, 2017.

Gove claimed that England currently has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. He believes that the actions set out in his proposals today, August 11, will reinforce the country’s status as a global leader.

As we prepare to leave the EU, these measures provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that our food is produced to the very highest standards.

Meanwhile, British farming is fully committed to high levels of animal welfare and the NFU expects this to continue once livestock leave the farm, the NFU’s Livestock Board Chairman, Charles Sercombe, said.

“The NFU welcomes mandatory CCTV monitoring in all UK abattoirs, as maintaining public confidence of our great British product is incredibly important,” he said.

Installation of CCTV

The installation of CCTV in slaughterhouses will only be mandatory in operations situated in England.

The proposals announced this morning are part of a series of measures, which it is hoped will cement the UK’s position as a global leader in animal welfare.

According to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the FSA has strict processes in place for the approval of slaughterhouses.

It also has specially trained vets that carry out checks to make sure the welfare of animals is protected throughout their time in the slaughterhouse.

If breaches are found, a slaughterhouse can: be given a welfare enforcement notice; have its staff’s licences suspended or revoked; or be referred for a criminal investigation, the department added.

The FSA takes a zero tolerance approach to any breaches of animal welfare standards in slaughterhouses, the Chairman of the FSA, Heather Hancock, explained.

“Last year, we concluded that it was time to make CCTV compulsory in slaughterhouses – [with] progress on voluntary adoption having plateaued,” Hancock said.

The UK government has also confirmed it will raise standards for farm animals and domestic pets by modernising statutory animal welfare codes – to reflect enhancements in medicines, technology and the latest research and advice from vets.

“The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat,” the department concluded.