Cameras to keep Coles happy but farmers disgruntled

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 13th August 2012

In light of the recent public footage of questionable abattoir practices within Australia, Coles have suggested CCTV cameras may be the way of the future for its farmer suppliers. If the recommended approach is proceeded with farmers may soon see the addition of surveillance cameras in their dairy and sheep sheds if they want to continue supplying produce to Coles.

Spokesperson for Coles Head of policy and quality for supermarkets recently stated that cameras may become permanent fixtures in farmers sheds in an attempt to assure customers that their food comes with a guarantee of humane animal treatment.

Animal protection groups are positive the decision would lead to improved conditions in abattoirs and farms. Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White has released a statement on the Animals Australia website saying “Abattoirs and producers who are confident that they can meet community expectations should welcome such an initiative; it would reassure consumers that retailers were taking community concerns about animal welfare seriously.”

Major UK supermarket supplier Tesco which has already adopted the practice for all lamb suppliers is being cited as a leading example for the Australian industry. Tesco is believed to have access to live CCTV footage of abattoirs to ease any concerns of animal cruelty. There is no suggestion that Coles wishes to introduce Australian slaughter-house footage into our supermarkets.

One could debate the overall effectiveness of cameras on Australian farms due to the large amount of time our Australian farm animals spend grazing outside in paddocks. Whilst intensive farming exists for the pig and chicken industry, especially egg manufacturers, the suggestion of cameras across paddocks seems to raise more questions that any footage will answer. Will it be financially and technologically viable for suppliers? To what extent could the footage be available to the public and have the risks of airing such footage been properly addressed in relation to groups such as children viewing and animals being slaughtered?

Will seeing animals being killed discourage sales of meat products? Is Coles seeking to use such footage to substantiate any claims? Time may tell.