Slaughterhouses will now be made to install CCTV under new plans to safeguard animal welfare.
The Food Standard Agency’s veterinarians will be given unrestricted access to footage of all places containing livestock.
Any abuse by a slaughterhouse will then result in a welfare enforcement notice, the suspending or revoking of staff licences, or referral for a criminal investigation.
There have been a number of high-profile cases of abuse within slaughterhouses, which included animals being kicked and punched in the face; picked up by their ears, fleeces and tails and thrown; smashed headfirst into solid structures; and deliberately given electric shocks through their abdomens, tails, snouts and open mouths.
At the same time, it was revealed last year that there are now more than 500,000 vegans in the UK, as the meat industry is increasingly being held to account.
Michael Gove, the environment secretary, said the proposals would ‘cement the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare’.
The government is also updating its statutory animal welfare codes to reflect advancements in technology and veterinary medicine.
‘We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and the actions I am setting out today will reinforce our status as a global leader,’ Gove said.
‘As we prepare to leave the EU, these measures provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that our food is produced to the very highest standards.’
Up until now it was voluntary for slaughterhouses to install CCTV – so although some did, they were the abattoirs least likely to need it.
The surveillance footage was then monitored internally, rather than by independent FSA vets.
The Rotherham Report, a study by Prof Ian Rotherham and researchers at Sheffield Haslam University found that the CCTV voluntarily installed in slaughterhouses was ‘by-and-large used to prevent meat theft rather than to protect animals’.
‘The clear conclusion is that the current system of welfare monitoring is failing and that compulsory use of CCTV with independent monitoring is the only robust solution,’ it said.