Our aim is to explain and expose various irregularities that we have seen in the slaughterhouse shown in the video, in compliance with the rules contained in Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations, Council Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009 of 24 September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing, the Spanish Royal Decree 37/2014 of 24 January which regulates aspects related to the protection of animals at the time of the killing, and Regulation (EC) No.854/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004, laying down specific rules for the organization of official controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption.
We expose some of the irregularities prior to the entry of the animal into the kill line:
The law mandates that before stunning them, animals should be kept without compromising their physiological condition and where the ante-mortem inspection can be done effectively. Animals must be properly rested, uncrowded, and protected from the weather. Moving the animal from the pen to the stunning area should produce minimum stress on the animal.
Animals which become ill or injured during transport should be separated from the rest and receive first aid as soon as possible. They must receive appropriate veterinary care and, when necessary, the animal should be put down immediately, to avoid any unnecessary suffering.
The video shows the overcrowding of lambs in the pen where the are waiting to enter the kill line. Due to this overcrowding, a lamb gets trapped in the gate and can hardly move. Moreover, there are video recordings of a worker throwing, kicking and slapping the lambs to make them move, creating unnecessary stress and suffering.
The video shows how the lambs left in the pen — apparently sick or injured, unable to stand up or move by themselves — are dragged into another area, when in fact the specific legislation states they have to be slaughtered on-site by an official veterinarian to avoid and prolong the suffering of the animal.
STUNNING AND DEATH
We expose some of the irregularities during the stunning and death process of the animal:
For ethical reasons, animals that are slaughtered for food purposes should be desensitized prior to their death. Various procedures haven been regulated for this purpose, such as stunning, the method used by this slaughterhouse.
Before their slaughter, animals have to be stunned for their desensitization and, according to AECOSAN (Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition), the interval between desensitization and bleeding must not be greater than 15 seconds, even though sheep are unconscious for 28 seconds (in the case of this slaughterhouse) due to the electric stunner used on their head.
The animals must bleed out as soon as possible after stunning, especially if the methods used allow for recovery, as in this case.
Stunning control is essential to ensure that the animal does not present any signs of consciousness between stunning and death, since according to Council Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009: As their neck is sectioned, animals must be unconscious and remain so until their death by bleeding.
A way to meet these requirements would be assessing the estate of awareness/sensitivity and unconsciousness/numbness of animals in three phases:
- Immediately after stunning.
- At the time of the incision.
- During the bleeding. Any animal that shows any sign of awareness must be stunned again.
The rules and indications on stunning are clear. There’s a recording showing how a worker allegedly pretends to stun some lambs and how these are fully conscious in the kill line.
The European regulation specifies that the interval between the desensitization and death of the animal must not be greater than 15 seconds, Sometimes, the lack of supervision breaks the rhythm of the line, so the time between stunning and death increases. Other irregularities that have been caught on camera show an operator speaking on the phone during one minute and four seconds while a conscious lamb is left hangin by its leg, waiting.
Based on Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 , the animal will be suitable for slaughter intended for human consumption when the ante-mortem inspection verifies that the animals are clean, dry, rested, with no excitement or fatigue, and present no signs of diseases that would make them unsuitable for human consumption. If during the ante-mortem inspection the animal is suspected of suffering from diseases that can make them unsuitable for human consumption, they should be sacrificed separately, to prevent the contamination of other animals and carcasses.
The verdict will be 'UNSUITABLE' for slaughter intended for human consumption when the ante-mortem inspection verifies that:
- The animal has serious diseases that can be transmitted to humans or animals by handling them or eating their meat.
-The animal shows clinical signs of systemic disease or severe emaciation.
Animals that become ill or injured during transport must be separated from the rest and must receive first aid as soon as possible. They must receive appropriate veterinary care and, when necessary, the animal should be put down immediately. If the sacrifice is performed without the supervision of the slaughterhouse’s OVS (official veterinary service), both the carcass and its entrails shall be declared unsuitable for human consumption.
*No veterinarian was detected or identified in the recordings.