Undercover Investigation Shows Harrowing Footage Inside UK Slaughterhouses
Although the UK has seen a significant drop in meat consumption since 2005, more than 893 million animals are still killed for meat each year in the country, often in horrific ways. Shocking footage taken by Animal Aid has revealed numerous cases of horrendous animal abuse in UK slaughterhouses, two of which could now face prosecution.
The appalling footage shows slaughterhouse workers repeatedly shocking terrified pigs on the ears, snout and body. Workers were also seen throwing and beating screaming and terrified animals and kicking them in the face as they struggled to stay alive. The tongs delivering the electric shock are meant to be held across an animal’s head for three to four seconds, rendering the animal unconscious. This was clearly not done; pigs received excruciating shocks whilst remaining fully conscious and flailing on the ground. The footage shows ewes who are stunned with complete disregard for their still-suckling lambs, and mothers are forced to watch their young being murdered.
Petrified animals are herded into the stun pen and forced to watch their companions suffer this abuse. In their terrified state, they repeatedly run at walls in a desperate attempt to escape their fate. At least two sheep are seen leaping through a hatch into the blood pit below – a sign of pure desperation. Animals struggle to escape the shackles once they are hoisted onto an overhead conveyor to have their throats cut, and one pig is seen falling headfirst onto the floor below. Cattle are “stunned” by means of a bolt gun, which fires a small rod into the skull. However, all too often the aim is inaccurate, leaving the cows wounded and struggling.
Following the release of this footage, the Food Standards Agency investigated. As a result of these investigations, four staff members at three abattoirs lost their slaughtering licences and four more had their licences suspended. Whilst this is a positive step, these atrocities are not the exception; similar abuse has been seen in six out of the seven slaughterhouses investigated and is almost certainly occurring in slaughterhouses across the country. Time and time again, welfare regulations were flaunted, and slaughterhouse workers showed absolutely no sign of compassion or consideration for animals.
One of the slaughterhouses investigated, Sturminster Newton in Dorset, which provides major suppliers such as Sainsbury’s, is owned by Anglo Beef Processors, one of the UK’s largest beef companies, which also supplies Asda. Sainsbury’s says it has now suspended all supplies from Sturminster.
These animals are sentient beings capable of feeling fear and pain just as you and I do, and when they are trapped in slaughterhouses, they are desperate to escape. Many form strong bonds, and the footage shows animals apparently trying to defend their companions from further suffering. These innocent beings are slaughtered for human consumption, left at the mercy of cold and uncaring slaughterhouse workers and subjected to appalling treatment before being mercilessly killed. Switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet is a healthy choice, but more importantly, it is a compassionate choice, reducing the demand for meat and ultimately saving the lives of animals.