Slaughterhouse closed after Animal Aid expose

Posted on the 18th August 2010

A&G Barber - the Essex slaughterhouse secretly filmed by Animal Aid inflicting shocking cruelty on pigs - has been forced to close as a result of the undercover investigation.

A&G Barber used to kill a quarter of all ‘cull sows’ in the UK. These are the breeding pigs who are killed when – exhausted from repeated pregnancies – their productivity declines. Their meat is considered low-grade and is, therefore, used in processed foods. A&G Barber’s main buyer was a German sausage manufacturer, which cancelled its contract when it saw our footage, prompting the slaughterhouse to close.

Animal Aid’s undercover film, which was shot over three days in April this year, shows scenes of extreme and deliberately-inflicted suffering, including use of electric tongs on animals’ snouts, tails and in their open mouths.

Other breaches filmed include:

  • Incompetent and inadequate stunning for almost every one of the 767 pigs filmed
  • Stunned pigs left to regain consciousness
  • The use of electric stunning tongs on the bodies – instead of the heads – of animals, which does not stun but delivers, instead, a painful electric shock
  • Pigs being routinely kicked in the face
  • Pigs being hit in the face with shackle hooks, in one case, drawing blood

Pig World, the industry’s leading magazine, wrote on August 1st: ‘[T]he industry must acknowledge Animal Aid’s contribution to animal welfare by exposing the incompetence of a slaughterman (who was sacked and his licence revoked.)’

Kate Fowler, Head of Campaigns at Animal Aid, says:

‘It is appalling that the cruelties meted out to animals at A&G Barber were allowed to continue and that all regulatory systems failed to detect and stop the abuses. If Animal Aid hadn’t happened to film at the plant, we believe that workers would still be kicking, beating and causing deliberate suffering to pigs there.

It is right and proper that companies who have seen our film shunned A&G Barber. And it is good news that this slaughterhouse, which allowed scared and vulnerable animals to endure unimaginable suffering, has now gone out of business.’

Local reports indicate that the slaughterhouse is up for sale but that at least one buyer has pulled out having seen Animal Aid’s footage.

One worker and the slaughterhouse operator still face prosecution.

Notes to Editors:

Additional Information

Animal Aid has covertly filmed inside seven randomly chosen red meat slaughterhouses since January 2009. In six of the seven, we recorded breaches of animal welfare laws and avoidable animal suffering.

Since August 2009, we have been calling for CCTV to be installed in all UK slaughterhouses to help vets monitor the stunning and slaughter process, to encourage best practice, to help with training and retraining and to provide evidence for prosecutions. We called for CCTV to be installed because it is clear from our investigations that the current monitoring system is inadequate and that many legal breaches and examples of bad practice are going undetected by vets.

We are now supported in this aim by the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association (which accredited two of the abattoirs we filmed) and – most importantly – the government’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The footage from our cameras is being used by Bristol University to help train abattoir vets and Soil Association inspectors, and by the FSA as evidence for prosecutions.

Animal Aid is also campaigning to improve the poor provision of training for slaughterers, and the currently meaningless ‘fit and proper person’ test. See details on these.

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