Mandatory CCTV Campaign FAQ's
1. Why are you not calling for a ban on horse slaughter?
Humane slaughter has a place, even if the concept of a horse being slaughtered may be something many people feel uncomfortable about. The costs of euthanasia and carcase disposal can be very high (and in some parts of the EU, euthanasia carried out by veterinary surgeons is completely unavailable), meaning that for some owners slaughter is the only viable option at the end of their horse’s life. If slaughter were not available, these horses could often end up suffering neglect or abandonment.
We are concerned with the welfare of the horse throughout its whole life, from birth to death – what happens to the horse after that point is not a welfare concern as the horse can no longer suffer harm. Therefore we do not oppose humane slaughter.
2. What do you mean by humane slaughter?
‘Humane slaughter’ means slaughter carried out in full compliance with the legislation designed to protect animal welfare, without causing suffering or distress to the horse – for instance, slaughter may not be carried out within sight of other horses. Only methods which have been deemed suitable for horses should be used and best practice guidelines should be followed. Slaughter which is not humane is not acceptable and has no place in our society.
3. How will the implementation of CCTV help the welfare of horses?
Mandatory CCTV can help authorities like the FSA monitor the whole slaughter process to ensure welfare laws are adhered to, and the recordings can also be used to help train staff. Mandatory CCTV will be part of the FSA’s programme in England and Wales to deter, prevent, detect and enforce animal welfare breaches. (Scottish slaughterhouses are overseen by Food Standards Scotland, but currently there are no equine slaughterhouses in Scotland). The FSA supports use of CCTV by business operators as part of their system for monitoring and protecting animal welfare. The use of CCTV does not replace direct oversight by management, or checks by officials, but it can improve their effectiveness. "
4. How many UK equine slaughterhouses are there?
The number of licenced equine slaughterhouses in the UK fluctuates regularly. There are currently five licenced. There are no slaughterhouses in the UK that are designed solely for the slaughter of equines.
5. How many horses are sent to slaughter in the UK each year?
FSA figures show that 5,008 horses were slaughtered in 2013, 4515 in 2014.
6. Why are you not just calling for CCTV alone?
Technology is constantly improving and there may be other recording methods which are more suitable for the slaughterhouse environment. This is equally applicable to the slaughterhouses and related agencies.
7. How is CCTV currently used in equine slaughterhouses?
In some instances CCTV may be used for security purposes only. Where CCTV is present inside the plant, it may be in areas used for processing and packaging, not necessarily where live animals are present. Many large retailers and assurance schemes require CCTV throughout the plant, but it is not always clear if or how this is monitored. Such schemes do not generally cover horse meat, but horses are usually slaughtered in the same plants as other livestock species.
8. Who currently has responsibility for the implementation, operation and enforcement of CCTV?
Sole responsibility lies with the slaughterhouse, on a voluntary basis. However, if CCTV becomes mandatory, our current understanding is that responsibility for implementation will lie with Defra (who issue policy guidelines), day-to-day operation will remain with the FBO and enforcement will become the responsibility of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Local Authority.
9. How many equine slaughterhouses currently have CCTV?
This is an area we are currently researching, which is reliant on the co-operation of the slaughterhouses. As part of our welfare at slaughter strategy, we are looking at the processes and available facilities at equine slaughterhouses across the UK. In order to fully understand this and all of the slaughter processes, we have undertaken a series of slaughterhouse visits and hope to have visited all of the UK slaughterhouses licenced for equines. This is reliant on their co-operation.
10. What happens to horse meat from UK slaughterhouses?
The vast majority of horse meat produced in the UK is exported to mainland Europe, but as the 2013 horse meat crisis revealed, it can be a highly complex and fluid supply chain.
11. What other measures can be/are being taken to ensure best practise and welfare of horses at the slaughterhouse? i.e. what are the proactive steps to ensure welfare is improved and breaches of welfare are minimised before they are recorded and reacted to?
Our welfare at slaughter strategy looks to identify best practice, shortfalls and/or training needs. This work will highlight how World Horse Welfare can best provide assistance.