Audit slates Spanish slaughterhouse conditions

By Arabella Mileham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Animal welfare Slaughterhouse Lamb Livestock

Audit slates Spanish slaughterhouse conditions
Spanish slaughterhouses have been criticised for poor animal welfare standards, after an audit carried out by the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office found that four out of seven slaughterhouses did not meet requirements.

The audit, which was carried out to evaluate the delivery of official controls and enforcements in slaughterhouses, visited eight slaughterhouses, the four biggest equine and four biggest sheep slaughterhouses, across Spain.

One of them had been suspended and was not operational.

Animal welfare inspections were deemed inadequate in five of the slaughterhouses, with inadequate training of staff and poor performance identified in six plants, particularly with regard to the stunning and slaughtering of animals.

There were serious concerns over hygiene standards.

Eurogroup for Animals criticised the record of the plants, saying it was “shocked” and calling on the Spanish to take immediate measures to correct the problems highlighted in the report.

Michel Court, Eurogroup for Animals’ farm animal expert, told GlobalMeatNews : “It’s a very concerning report.

Animal welfare is not being respected in a lot of slaughterhouses in Spain, and the lack of controls is a big shortcoming.

It is clear that the official veterinarian (OV) control and the auditing is not good enough.

“It paints an appalling and concerning image of the slaughter of animals in Spain.

“It is also concerning on account of the food hygiene problems.

It is unbelievable that some abattoirs are allowed to operate with such conditions, when there are so many deficiencies.”

As well as calling for an urgent re-inspection of the slaughterhouses concerned to see that the situation had improved, he said it was important to see how these problems had arisen and whether it was indicative of a widespread structural problem in the system of inspection.

“If the establishments have been approved, it means that the system of approval is not compliant,” he said, adding that it should not be possible to accept such deficiencies.

“If this is the case, the system needs to be reviewed.

If it is not a structural problem and the system works, these problems should have been spotted by HACCP.”

He said that the final source of problem may rest with the controls carried out by OVs who aren’t properly trained.

“We need to understand if it is a problem  of training, procedure or instruction.

Thousands of animals in Spain are subjected to this,” he said, “and it is also potentially dangerous for the consumer.”

The audit found a catalogue of problems relating to compliance, documentation and traceability.

It found that there were “significant problems” with cleaning and slaughter hygiene, especially with regard to skinning and evisceration, with faecal contamination widely present on carcases and inadequate pest control.

In six of the eight plants visited, the performance of the food business operator was said to be poor, with works not properly trained and not using the appropriate slaughter techniques.

Four slaughterhouses were found to be deficient for the  maintenance, installation and equipment, general and specific hygiene conditions and operation practices, causing actual and potential contamination of exposed meat.

Significant deficiencies were noted in post-mortem inspections, although in two of the plants, OVs responsible for checking animal welfare were found to be too busy performing these to check on the welfare of the animals.

Seven of the plants visited did not demonstrate that appropriate action was taken when non-compliances has been identified, and one plant, which had been suspended from activity due to major non-compliance issues, failed to record the deficiencies.

Another plant was seen to record the same problems for a period of more than three years, a situation described by the Court as “unacceptable” .

The animal welfare charity has also highlighted the “appalling” conditions in French abattoirs in a recently broadcast documentary on French television, which showed that 11% of French slaughterhouses did not adhere to basic EU legislation.

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