Cows beaten with electric prods and pigs cut while still alive

UK: Cows were beaten with electric prods and sheep and pigs were not stunned for long enough before having their throats cut at a government-approved small abattoir, according to an undercover investigation.

A piglet appeared to be alive in a scalding hot water tank, and others were thrown into the tank with no checks for signs of life.

The Animal Justice Project (AJP) organisation, which carried out the two-month research, is calling on the government to halt plans to use public money to subsidise slaughterhouses under the new Agriculture Act, and for an independent review of abattoirs.

Ministers want to support local abattoirs after many closed in recent years.

A meat industry spokesman cast doubt on the claims, saying animals can move, appearing to be alive, even after they have died.

The government’s food watchdog, the Food Standards Agency (FSA), has deemed the slaughterhouse “generally satisfactory” in audits over the past six years.

The footage suggested that CCTV - mandatory in all abattoirs in England since 2018 - was not protecting animals as it should.

G & GB Hewitt asked the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (Aims) to respond to the footage on its behalf. Stephen Lomax, a vet and director of Aims, said the group deplored any breaches of the law on animal welfare in meat plants and supported the highest standards.

He claimed many of the allegations by AJP were “nonsense, misleading or ill informed” but admitted it seemed “likely that animals have also been treated unacceptably in this film”.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said: “The government has a strong track record for raising the bar when it comes to welfare measures, and we are committed to ensuring all animals are treated with the utmost respect at all stages of life.