A meat organization has claimed that legislation requiring CCTV in all abattoirs in England 'discriminates against abattoir workers'.
All slaughterhouses will have to fully comply with the rules - which are now in force - by November 5, giving them an 'adjustment period' of six months so that facilities can install camera systems. Official Veterinarians will have unrestricted access to footage.
The legislation, which was a Tory manifesto pledge, follows a consultation launched by Environment Secretary Michael Gove last Summer. A summary of responses published in November showed that of almost 4,000 respondents, more than 99 percent were supportive of the plans.
The legislation is one of a number of measure aimed at improving animal welfare in England and the rest of the UK, including publishing updated animal welfare codes, and increasing sentences for animal cruelty tenfold to six years.
Animal Welfare Minister, Lord Gardiner, said: "The Government shares the public's high regard for animal welfare and we are proud to have some of the highest standards in the world. Today we welcome the new law which requires mandatory CCTV in all abattoirs in England.
"We are a nation that cares about animals and these strong measures will ensure all animals are treated with the utmost respect at all stages of life allows us to continue to lead the way to raise the bar in high welfare standards."
Animal protection group Animal Aid has exposed abuse in English slaughterhouses
But the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers [AIMS] says 'there is no justification for the discrimination of abattoir workers'. AIMS Head of Policy Norman Bagley told Farming UK that while the organization supports the use of CCTV, 'the devil will be in the detail'.
He said: "We believe a practical solution would be to provide FSA [Food Standards Agency] vets unrestricted access to real-time footage.
"To permit FSA to review months of recordings of staff who have not consented to being filmed and initiate retrospective prosecutions is unprecedented. Similar controls over staff in hospitals and care homes would never be contemplated so there is no justification for discrimination of abattoir workers.
"The presence of CCTV will potentially make it more difficult to retain staff, and we anticipate it may be more difficult to recruit new staff to work in these areas."
Speaking to Plant Based News, an activist source denied claims that the new legislation is tantamount to 'discrimination' - adding that undercover investigations of English slaughterhouses have revealed animal abuse.
They added: "The new measures have been introduced as a way to improve animal welfare. It's worrying that a major meat body is pushing against a system designed to reduce the suffering of animals.
"Many people are subject to being filmed at work - for example, those working in retail. To call this discrimination is ludicrous."