NSW Government introduces new animal welfare laws for domestic abattoirs

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th May 2012

New legal requirements are being introduced in New South Wales and will require all abattoirs to designate an Animal Welfare Officer to be present on the premises to monitor and take responsibility for the welfare of animals.

Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, today announced the new “animal welfare package” to lift animal welfare standards in all domestic abattoirs.

“Only employees that have undertaken specific animal welfare officer training will be eligible to be designated”, Ms Hodgkinson said.

The new animal welfare package is part of wider review of domestic abattoir operations by the NSW Government.

The new animal welfare package announced today by the NSW Government will ensure the following measures will be imposed as a condition of the abattoir’s licence:

– All domestic abattoirs, by 1 January 2013, are required to designate a trained Animal Welfare Officer to be on the premises while processing is occurring. Only employees that have been trained in the relevant component of the of the MTM11 Australian Meat Industry Training Package will be eligible to be a designated Animal Welfare Officer;

– All relevant employees are required to undertake training in the “stunning, sticking and shackling” component of the MTM11 Australian Meat Industry Training Package by 1 July 2013; and

– All NSW domestic abattoirs are required to comply with the mandatory adoption of Section 2 of the “Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments preparing meat for human consumption”, 2nd Edition.

Ms Hodgkinson said, “These tough new measures are being introduced to foster a culture in which abattoir management and employees fully understand and implement procedures that consistently comply with animal welfare standards.

“The NSW Government will also introduce an additional annual audit specifically focussing on animal welfare compliance and develop a sanctions policy to address any non-compliance with these requirements”, she added.

Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors to be fined AU$5,200

In February 2012, the NSW Government launched a review of abattoir operations  Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors, in Wilberforce, after footage emerged showing pigs being beaten with metal bars and sheep being skinned while still conscious.

The NSW Government has now completed its investigation of the abattoir and it will be fined a total of AU$5,200 for breaching its licence conditions and it will be placed on the Food Authority’s Name & Shame register.

The RSPCA investigation into allegations of animal mistreatment under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA) 1979 is ongoing and the abattoir could be subject to additional penalties under POCTA for acts of cruelty to animals.

“This Government has listened to community concern about animal welfare standards in domestic abattoirs following the incident at Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors in February this year, and now we’re acting to ensure animal welfare standards in domestic abattoirs are improved”, Ms Hodgkinson said.