“Protecting animals in slaughterhouses cannot be reduced to a question of cameras,” said France’s meat industry organisation Culture Viande. It said in a statement that videos would only allow malpractice to be shown after the act, “as videos shown by anti-meat groups prove”.
For Culture Viande, installing video cameras would only help anti-meat campaigners, “whose real aim is not animal wellbeing but stopping meat consumption”. The group also questioned if video prevention worked, arguing, “who really takes notice of street cameras?” Culture Viande further emphasised animal slaughter was one of the most controlled activities in France.
CCTV is expected to be installed in French abattoirs on 1 January 2018.
More than 6,000 abattoir workers own a certificate of competence for animal welfare, it said. Jean-Luc Mériaux, secretary general of the European Livestock and Meat Trading Union (UECBV), agreed. “Malpractice is very exceptional,” he told GlobalMeatNews. “There are permanent official controls in the slaughterhouses; otherwise, the plant is not allowed to produce.”
Mr Mériaux said EU slaughterhouses “take care of the animals because of the need to comply with the regulation [on slaughterhouses] and the impact of malpractice on the final product quality”.
For him, “animal welfare is not a question of technology but of men and women, skill, training, common sense, good practice guides and science knowledge”.
While installing videos would not cause a problem, with several slaughterhouses doing so, he said it would increase production costs.
Mériaux, like Culture Viande, argued that installing video cameras would “raise the issue of an individual’s fundamental freedom”.
The controversial reform had been proposed by Parti Radical de Gauche (PRG – radical left party) deputy Olivier Falorni – who maintains it concerns animal protection not employee surveillance – and backed by 28 and opposed by four French deputies at the 12 January first reading assembly vote.
It will now be scrutinised by the French Senate (upper house of parliament) after legislative and senate elections in June and September, before returning to the Assembly for a second reading where, if adopted, it will become law.
If passed, authorities would install video cameras in all areas of the slaughterhouse after a trial period. But under its terms, only veterinarians and animal welfare inspectors would be able to see the images and footage could only be held for a month.
If agreed by an ethics committee created by the law, the recordings could also be used for training purposes.