8 York Court
Bristol BS2 8QH
Tel: 0117 944 1000
Fax: 0117 924 4646
13 November 2000
MAFF accused of failing
to protect animals in abattoirs
Photocall: Tuesday 14 November at 2 pm at the MAFF offices,
Block B, Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2
The animal charity Viva! is accusing the Ministry of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of failing to protect
animals’ welfare in British abattoirs. At 2 pm on Tuesday
14th November, campaigners dressed as farm animals will be
‘killed’ by a ‘slaughterman’ on the steps of the MAFF
offices in Cambridge. Campaigners will hold placards saying,
‘Abattoir cruelty: MAFF approved’ and ‘MAFF: No protection
The demonstration is one of a series of protests taking
place at MAFF offices around the UK. They follow a major
expose of the Britain’s slaughter industry by Viva!. Video
evidence shot at three British abattoirs shows animals being
stunned for as little as two seconds and regaining
consciousness as they bleed to death. Clearly conscious
sheep and pigs are shown struggling violently as they hang
from shackles on the slaughter line.
Viva! has reviewed the latest scientific literature for its
58-page Sentenced to Death report which reveals that
stunning techniques cause suffering and that every year,
tens of millions of animals regain consciousness before they
· Five million electrically stunned sheep regain
consciousness before they die from loss of blood.
· 1.8 million electrically stunned pigs regain
consciousness before they die. 244,800 pigs a year are
incorrectly stunned and do not lose consciousness.
· Four million pigs are stunned with carbon dioxide
gas. It takes them up to 30 seconds to lose consciousness
and during that time they will squeal, hyperventilate and
try to escape.
· Up to 230,000 cattle are not correctly stunned with
the captive bolt pistol and endure the pain of being shot
again or knifed whilst conscious.
· 62 million chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese
regain consciousness and at least 8.4 million are conscious
when they enter the scalding tank.
Slaughterhouses are continuing to pay workers according to
the number of animals killed and both workers and inspectors
are under pressure not to stop the line, whatever the needs
of the animals. Slaughterhouses frequently have no trained
staff. Vets and inspectors are only obliged to observe
stunning and killing once a day and Viva! believes that
major animal welfare problems are going unnoticed.
“Current legislation does little to protect the two million
animals killed in UK abattoirs every day and we are calling
on MAFF to make urgent changes,” says Viva! Campaigner
Rebecca Smith. “In the abattoirs we visited, slaughtermen
were frequently left to stun and kill the animals without
any direct supervision and we witnessed animals regaining
consciousness as they bled to death.
“Across the country, tens of millions of animals a year
regain consciousness because of long stun-to-knife
intervals, the inaccurate and brief placement of electric
tongs and the cutting of only one carotid artery at
slaughter. This huge toll of suffering is wholly
unacceptable in a society which claims to care about
Viva!’s report contains an account from Gabriele Meurer
MRCVS, who was a vet in UK slaughterhouses and has serious
concerns about animal welfare. She says,
“The slaughtermen are in such a hurry that they often don’t
put the electric tongs in the correct position when they
stun the pigs. Some wake up while they bleed and are
obviously still conscious when they are plunged into the
boiling water. Sheep are stunned just as badly.”
Notes to Editors:
For a fully
referenced report, pictures or video
footage, contact Rebecca Smith, Juliet Gellatley or Tony Wardle on 0117 944 1000.
Animal welfare legislation in UK slaughterhouses is covered
by The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations
1995 (HMSO publication).