8 York Court
Bristol BS2 8QH
Tel: 0117 944 1000
Fax: 0117 924 4646
19 September 2000
Meat Hygiene Service
accused of failing to protect animals in
Photocall: Tuesday 26 September at 2pm at MHS headquarters,
Kings Pool, 1-2 Peasholme Green, York
The animal charity Viva! is accusing the Meat Hygiene
Service of failing to protect animals’ welfare in British
abattoirs. At 2 pm on Tuesday 26th September, a
‘slaughterman’ will ‘kill’ a pantomime pig on the steps of
the MHS headquarters in York as part of a national
demonstration. Campaigners will hold placards saying,
‘Abattoir cruelty: MHS approved’ and ‘MHS: No protection for
The demonstration follows a major expose of the UK’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
The animal charity 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 die.
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
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. MHS vets and inspectors are obliged to observe
stunning and killing once a day and Viva! believes that
major animal welfare problems are going unnoticed.
“In the abattoirs we visited, MHS staff spent the majority
of their time monitoring carcass hygiene after slaughter.
Slaughtermen were frequently left to stun and kill the
animals without any direct supervision and we witnessed
serious problems as a result,” says Viva! Campaigner Rebecca
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 problem is worst with the pigs. The slaughtermen are in
such a hurry that they often don’t put the electric tongs in
the correct position. 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.”
For a fully
referenced report, pictures or video
footage, contact Rebecca Smith, Juliet Gellatley or Tony Wardle on 0117 944 1000.