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CCTV in equine slaughterhouses

High-profile, undercover filming of poor welfare practices in slaughterhouses in 2009 have led to campaigns from welfare groups to make it a legal requirement for slaughterhouses to have CCTV. Currently, both the FSA and the Government support the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses as one of several tools to prevent cruelty, but it is not compulsory.

Equine slaughterhouses: regulations

Horses killed for non-human consumption must be killed in a separate room or a bay which is kept specifically for that purpose. Horses must also not be killed: in sight of another horse; or in a room where there are remains of another horse or other animal.

There are five abattoirs in England and Wales licensed for the slaughter of horses (solipeds). Food Standards Scotland say there are none in Scotland. There were a total of 12,431 horses slaughtered at abattoirs in Great Britain over the past 3 years. This excludes animals being euthanized by vets in situ after an accident or illness.

World Horse Welfare campaign

The World Horse Welfare charity is campaigning to make CCTV a legal requirement in equine slaughterhouses in order to safeguard equine welfare at slaughter. According to the charity, 4,515 UK horses were killed in a slaughterhouse in 2014. The charity also explains that:

Whilst sending a horse to slaughter may not be the preferred choice for most horse owners, World Horse Welfare believes it is essential this remains an available option, as other methods of ending a horse’s life can prove to be prohibitively expensive for some owners and the consequences of leaving a horse to deteriorate presenting a much more inhumane alternative. More than 40% of horse owners asked agreed that the costs of euthanasia are so high that the slaughterhouse must remain an option and nearly two thirds agreed that sending a horse to a slaughterhouse is better than letting them suffer.

World Horse Welfare is supporting an e-petition before Parliament which calls on the Government “Make CCTV mandatory in the UK’s equine slaughterhouses”:

We want to ensure that the whole slaughter process is made transparent through the mandatory use of CCTV or other recording technology in all UK equine slaughterhouses which is accessible and checked by the relevant authorities, such as the Food Standards Agency, to support their monitoring efforts.

As of 23 November 2016, it had nearly 7,000 signatures.

Further reading

Food Standards Agency, CCTV in Slaughterhouses, 12 October 2010

Food Standards Agency, Results of the 2016 CCTV survey in slaughterhouses in England and Wales, 31 August 2016

Food Standards Agency, Slaughter licensing and animal welfare

E-petition: Make CCTV mandatory in the UK’s equine slaughterhouses

Farm Animal Welfare Committee, Opinion on CCTV in slaughterhouses, February 2015

World Horse Welfare, World Horse Welfare Calls for CCTV in all of UK’s Equine Slaughterhouses, 20 October 2016

RSPCA, CCTV in slaughterhouses: an opportunity under Brexit, November 2016


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