CCTV in Slaughterhouses
This month Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced that CCTV will now be compulsory in all slaughterhouses in England. Whilst I believe that this is fantastic news for animal welfare and a positive step in the right direction, it doesn't stop huge quantities of meat coming into the UK from elsewhere where welfare standards are not so high.
In the UK under high welfare standards, sow stalls are not permitted. However in other EU countries they are allowed for four weeks in each pregnancy, and in the US permanent confinement of the sow is permitted within these stalls. Sow stalls are cages that are extremely narrow to prevent the sow from turning around during pregnancy. It is a way of keeping the pigs isolated once they are impregnated and contain no bedding but are instead covered in plastic or metal so that all excrement can easily run away. To my mind this is no way for an animal to live.
There is no legal requirement for pigs to have bedding in the US and antibiotics can legally be used constantly in their feed as a promoter for growth. There is also no restriction on tail docking in the US, and even in the EU and UK where the law states that 'tails must not be docked routinely' this is often ignored. If pigs are being raised in stressful, cramped environments it is highly likely they will be attacking each other's tails. Surely rather than tail docking, we should be addressing the reason why they are attacking one another in the first place - particularly when these are such intelligent animals.
In my latest article for Huffington Post I take a look at why CCTV in slaughterhouses is a step in the right direction, but why really, it's only a baby step.