A major abattoir in Scotland is to suspend operations later today, as its carbon dioxide supplies dwindle.
There are shortages of the gas, which is used to stun animals before they are slaughtered, across Europe.
Quality Pork Limited kills around 6,000 pigs every week in its Brechin slaughterhouse. Scottish Pork Producers [SPP] Chief Executive Andy McGowan claims the temporary closure could lead to 'animal welfare issues' including overcrowding.
He told the BBC: "We can send some pigs to England, to our sister factories at Tulip. But that is not a long-term solution. They, too, are seeing CO2 shortages."
British Meat Processors Association Chief Executive, Nick Allen, added: "The frustration is the lack of information. We understand that several producers are reopening plants and restarting production, but getting information is very difficult, which makes it very difficult to plan.
"Things are getting pretty tight and this hot weather won't be helping. If things don't alter this week, we're going to see people having to make some serious decisions, mainly in the pig production area."
'Keep the food chain moving'
The meat industry wants to be prioritized when it comes to supplies, so animals can continually be slaughtered. An official statement from British Poultry Council Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said: "With the supply of CO2 tightened across Europe, the British Poultry Council is calling on Government and major gas producers to prioritise supplies to slaughterhouses and keep the food chain moving.
"We are assessing what the possible impact on food supply might be, and BPC members are working hard to minimise the effect.
"It is worrying that failures in the gas sector can have such a potentially huge effect on British food production. The BPC will be working closely with Defra, BEIS, retailers, and gas suppliers to implement contingency plans and mitigate any major impact on sustainable supply of food."
'Consider food choices'
An activist source told Plant Based News that the slaughterhouse closure is not necessarily good news for the animals. They said: "These are animals who are destined for the food chain, and so the CO2 shortages are unlikely to mean they are allowed to live.
"It appears from reports that some animals are facing longer journeys to alternative slaughterhouses. This is not good news at the best of times, but right now we are facing a heat wave.
"We are hoping that the having the spotlight on CO2 and animal slaughter may encourage consumers to consider their food choices - and how they impact animals."