Top animal charity Mercy for Animals has branded a video of slaughterhouse workers abusing pigs and sheep 'shocking'.
The video was part of a two-year investigation by the UK's Food Standard Agency [FSA], which documented 9,511 animal welfare breaches between July 2014 and June 2016. The data was published in August 2016.
More than 4,400 breaches were 'category 4' - the most serious - meaning these animals were subjected to 'avoidable pain, distress, or suffering'.
These violations included instances of chickens being boiled alive and trucks of animals suffocating or freezing to death.
According to Mercy for Animals: "The report documented a host of atrocities: a cow 'violently slammed' against a wall following an argument between two workers, chickens and pigs lowered into scalding water while fully conscious, and a cow taken to slaughter with a facial lesion 'completely full of worms'.
"Thousands of animals were killed without proper stunning."
No place for cruelty
Speaking to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism when the findings were first revealed, Tory MP and farmer Neil Parish, chairman of the Commons Select Committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: "There is no place for animal cruelty at any stage of farm production – including the slaughterhouse.
"This country prides itself as having some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world.
"It’s vital the authorities crack down on any abuses and ensure there is zero tolerance to any mistreatment of animals when slaughtered."
But Mercy for Animals believes intervention by the authorities is not enough - and the only way to ensure animals are not abused is to stop buying animal products.
The charity says: "The best thing we can do to stop animal cruelty is to end our support of the industries responsible for it.
"Click here to learn more about switching to a humane vegan diet."