SYDNEY, Australia – The New South Wales government announced new animal welfare requirements after an undercover video that depicted animal abuses at an abattoir provoked public outcry.
Under the new requirements, each abattoir will be required to designate an Animal Welfare Officer who must be on the premises to monitor and take responsibility for animal welfare. This and other measures are due to take effect in 2013.
“Only employees that have undertaken specific animal welfare officer training will be eligible to be designated,” said Katrina Hodgkinson, Minister for Primary Industries.
The measures were announced after Animal Liberation, an animal rights group, released video footage of animals being abused at Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors. Hodgkinson said the NSW government had also completed its investigation into the matter, and that the company will be fined A$5,200 ($5,108.38) for breaching its license conditions and it will be placed on the Food Authority’s Name & Shame register.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) NSW has an ongoing investigation into allegations of animal abuse at the facility under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA). The abattoir could face additional penalties under POCTA for acts of animal cruelty.
Other measures are being imposed as a condition of receiving an abattoir’s license:
• All domestic abattoirs, by Jan. 1, 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 July 1, 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.
The government also plans to develop and implement an annual audit specifically focused on animal welfare and compliance, including a system of sanctions to address non-compliance, Hodgkinson said.
“This government takes non-compliance of food and animal welfare laws extremely seriously, and 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," she said.
The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) came out in support of the new requirements for animal welfare training.
"These new arrangements announced by the NSW Government will contribute to the Industry led initiatives to further assist our industry in meeting Australia’s animal welfare laws as well as the standards expected by the community," said Kevin Cottrill, chief executive officer of AMIC in a statement.
"AMIC recognizes that the humane treatment of animals, expert animal welfare management and compliance with Australia’s animal welfare regulations is the unconditional expectation of Australian consumers and our customers."