Animal Aid

Government figures on effective stunning in UK slaughterhouses attacked as 'wildly inaccurate'

Posted 7 April 2014

The government has grossly underplayed animal suffering by issuing new figures stating that animals in British slaughterhouses are correctly stunned in more than 99 per cent of cases. This statistic comes from the number of mis-stuns witnessed and reported by Official Veterinarians who detailed just nine cases of mis-stuns in cows and three in sheep in 2013.

But in 250 hours of footage filmed by Animal Aid between 2009 and 2012, vets were not seen anywhere near the stunning and slaughter processes in any of the nine randomly selected UK slaughterhouses. It is clear that vets are not seeing what goes on, and their reports that ‘all is well’ are based on ignorance.

Animal Aid saw many more mis-stuns than the total reported by vets almost every day in almost every slaughterhouse it filmed via fly-on-the-wall cameras.

  • In Somerset slaughterhouse, AC Hopkins, 12.2 per cent of the sheep and 99.6 per cent of the pigs were stunned more than once - the first time just to bring the animals down, then a second stun was given to render them unconscious. This is illegal but was not detected by the vet.
  • In Dorset, at ABP, 12 per cent of cows had to be shot more than once with the captive bolt. One cow of the 114 filmed on Day 1 was shot four times, another three times. On Day 2, we filmed 152 cows, and six required a second shot (4 per cent). One was already shackled and hoisted by the time they did this.
  • At JH Lambert, Norfolk, the stunning method for pigs was illegal, so none of the 122 pigs filmed were stunned correctly.
  • At A&G Barber in Essex, the stunning method was illegal so 762 of the 767 - 99.3 per cent) pigs we filmed were stunned incorrectly. (The five who were stunned correctly were ‘processed’ immediately after a particularly vicious outburst by the slaughterman, which we believe drew the attention of someone higher up, hence the adherence to the law for the next five pigs).
  • In a Derbyshire slaughterhouse, Pickstock, 2.5 cent of cows filmed had to be stunned twice. No laws were broken here, so this failure rate could indicate the ‘best case scenario’ for cows.

Says Head of Campaigns at Animal Aid, Kate Fowler:

‘We know from our in-depth investigations inside randomly selected slaughterhouses that vets are not present on the stunning and slaughter lines. They do not see what our cameras saw and they are not in a position to report the number of mis-stuns. Despite this, the government is citing their wholly inadequate reports as fact.
‘Vets did not see the breaches that Animal Aid filmed. It was up to Animal Aid to provide evidence that led to: at least 11 slaughter licences being suspended, revoked or denied; legal action being taken against four slaughterhouses and nine workers; two men being jailed for animal cruelty; and the closing down of one slaughterhouse. If the vets were capable of properly reporting infringements, surely they would have reported these?’

Animal Aid’s campaign for mandatory CCTV and independent monitoring in all UK slaughterhouses – to help vets to see what happens in the stunning and slaughter areas when they cannot be present – continues.

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