Australian abattoirs facing worldwide trend for CCTV video cameras

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 5th March 2012

With leading Australian meat producers such as Teys Australia now having agreed to introduce CCTV cameras to monitor their Australian abattoirs, Australia appears to be following a worldwide trend to make animal slaughter methods more transparent for consumers.  

Teys Australia, owned by the Teys Brothers and US company Cargill, accounts for roughly 18 per cent of animal slaughters in the Australian meat industry. The company has abattoirs in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.

However, one of Australia’s largest meat processors, JBS, is resisting pressure from animal welfare activists across Australia to follow the lead of Teys.

The issue of animal welfare in Australia’s abattoirs has come under the spotlight several times in recent months. In February this year, a Sydney abattoir was closed by the NSW Food Authority after receiving video footage from Animal Liberation NSW showing acts of gross animal mistreatment involving sheep, cattle, goats and pigs. The slaughterhouse is now under an investigation involving the RSPCA.

In November 2011, the Victorian authorities closed down an abattoir in Gippsland after Animals Australia provided footage of animal welfare breaches inside the facility.

Worldwide trend

In 2011, a number of major supermarket chains in the UK demanded that CCTV systems be fitted in all abattoirs that supply them with meat, in a move to reassure consumers that the animals are not being cruelly treated. It is estimated that one in five abattoirs in the UK has been fitted with CCTV cameras.

In addition, the UK’s Food Standards Agency is currently considering the mandatory introduction of CCTV camera to all abattoirs in the UK, as advocated by UK charities Animal Aid, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Compassion in World Farming.

CCTV is already common in abattoirs throughout the United States, with meat processors reported to be increasingly introducing CCTV systems to their abattoirs. In August 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture published a set of guidelines for US meat processors, encouraging them to use CCTV systems. It is yet to be made mandatory though.