Animal welfare

We maintain regular checks on slaughterhouses in the UK, to ensure that they comply with our regulations that maintain animal welfare.
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Under Council Regulation 1099/2009 responsibility for animal welfare and food safety in slaughterhouses rests with business operators. You must meet legislative requirements in terms of slaughterhouse design, layout and equipment.

Your slaughterers must be appropriately trained and licensed to slaughter all species presented to them.

You are responsible for ensuring animal needs are met and for the welfare of animals in your care.

Specially trained Official Veterinarians carry out checks to make sure that there have been no issues concerning the welfare of animals presented for slaughter.

This can happen

  • when the animals are on the farm
  • during transport
  • when the animals arrive at the slaughterhouse
  • up to the point of slaughter

These checks include making sure that the business operator has appropriate procedures in place to safeguard animal welfare. Meat hygiene inspectors support them with these duties.

So that the risk of any animal suffering during the process is minimised, our operational staff check:

  • the unloading and handling of animals
  • where they are kept prior to slaughter
  • the restraint and handling of animals
  • the positioning of stunning equipment
  • the effectiveness of the stun the efficiency of bleeding

This includes monitoring of slaughter by religious methods including special restraint facilities that may be in place for this purpose.

More information can be found on gov.uk pages on animal welfare.

Monitoring slaughterhouses in England and Wales

We monitor slaughterhouses to make sure that animals are protected before and during slaughter and killing.

We issue certificates of competence for slaughterers and other operatives working with animals such as handlers or shacklers.

This is to make sure you have the right training and for the animals you are handling and the duties you are carrying out.

The legislation that we use is the Council Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing. England and Wales have also retained national rules where these give greater protection to animals at the time of killing than the EU Regulation.

Use of CCTV to monitor slaughter processes

We enforce zero tolerance towards animal cruelty. You must have appropriate systems in place to comply with the legal requirements and achieve the required standards of animal welfare.

We support the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses as an effective monitoring tool for animal welfare. This helps both the food business operator and their management team ensure the necessary standards are being met at all times.

All animal welfare survey results

Each year we carry out a survey on CCTV in slaughterhouses in England and Wales. 

Results of animal welfare surveys carried out by us in 2011, 2013 and 2015 in slaughterhouses are also available in the national archives

Requirements for non-stun slaughter

If you don’t slaughter your animals with prior stunning, DEFRA has recently clarified requirents for non-stun slaughter of small ruminant animals by religious rites.

Training

Individuals that are involved in killing and related operations must hold a proficiency qualification before being able to apply for a Certificate of Competence.

You do not need a proficiency qualification if you have grandfather rights and meet application criteria that is included in the slaughter licensing information.

Food and Drink Qualification (FDQ) and Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) approve food businesses and learning providers to deliver and assess proficiency qualifications. They can provide further information for your staff to complete the required qualification.

Our checks

Specially trained Official Veterinarians carry out checks to make sure that there have been no issues concerning the welfare of animals presented for slaughter.

These checks include making sure that the business operator has appropriate procedures in place to safeguard animal welfare. Meat Hygiene Inspectors support them with these duties.

Our operational staff monitor the slaughter process to ensure that welfare at slaughter is maintained to the highest standards. 

Checks are made:

  • on the unloading and handling of animals
  • where they are kept prior to slaughter
  • restraining of animals
  • positioning of stunning equipment
  • on the effectiveness of the stun
  • the efficiency of bleeding

These checks minimise the risk of any animal suffering during the process. 

This includes monitoring of slaughter by religious methods including special restraint facilities that may be in place for this purpose.

National survey

We carried out a week long animal welfare surveys in slaughterhouses in Britain in 2011 and 2013 to provide assurance that:

  • food business operators were taking active steps to comply with legal requirements and achieve necessary animal welfare standards
  • Official Veterinarians and frontline teams were carrying out their roles effectively, with appropriate monitoring and relevant enforcement action being taken in the event of food business operator non-compliance
  • an unannounced inspection programme also took place in February to March 2015, with results presented to the our Board in June 2015

Farm animals: data from survey of slaughter methods 2015