meat pigs abattoir

New legislation that would make the installation of CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses across England will be laid before parliament today (23 February).

The proposed law, first outlined by environment secretary Michael Gove last August, would “safeguard animal welfare”, Defra said.

But it would not include any provision for CCTV in meat processing and cutting plants - which is subject to a review by the FSA following the recent meat scandals at 2 Sisters Food Group and Russell Hume - and is due to report by the end of the month.

The legislation would come into effect from May if passed through parliament, from which point businesses would have six months to comply. CCTV would be required in all areas where live animals were present, with unrestricted access to 90 days-worth of footage for official vets, “reassuring consumers that high welfare standards are being effectively enforced”, Defra said.

It follows a public consultation that attracted almost 4,000 respondents, more than 99% of whom were supportive of the plans.

“We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and want to cement our status as a global leader by continuing to raise the bar,” said Gove.

“Introducing compulsory CCTV cameras in slaughterhouses is a further demonstration to consumers around the world that as we leave the EU, we continue to produce our food to the very highest standards.

“The previous reaction to the consultation highlighted the strength of feeling among the public that all animals should be treated with the utmost respect at all stages of life and be subject to the highest possible welfare standards.”

If breaches were found, a slaughterhouse can be given a welfare enforcement notice, have its staff’s licences suspended or revoked, or be referred for a criminal investigation.

The move was welcomed by FSA chair Heather Hancock, who said it would help businesses to improve animal welfare and hygiene standards across the industry.

“We look forward to working with the industry as CCTV plans are implemented, and to seeing public confidence rise as a result.”