News and updates about Australian slaughterhouses / abattoirs
Cruelty video: 'rogue' abattoir checked four times in a year
This article relates to the following facility: Hawkesbury Valley Meats (Aussie Abattoirs)
The Hawkesbury abattoir shut down following the release of shocking animal cruelty footage had been checked by the government regulator four times last year but no breaches had been detected.
The NSW Food Authority yesterday ordered the immediate halt to slaughter at the Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors at Wilberforce, in Sydney's west, after seeing undercover footage apparently taken by a worker at the abattoir.
Peter Day, executive director of compliance and enforcement at the NSW Food Authority, today described the abattoir as a ''rogue operation''.
''It is not representative of the industry as a whole; this is a rogue operation that's in no way compliant with what is expected of abattoirs out there in the community,'' he said.
The abattoir had been visited four times in 2011, he said, but no licence breaches or problems of this nature had been detected.
Mr Day defended the government's system of checks on the industry.
''We do intense audits and inspections of these plants. They're unannounced. I think that our compliance program is as good as it can be at the present time,'' he said.
''Obviously part of the investigation will also look at what we do in terms of ongoing investigation and compliance activities.''
The abattoir owner will now have to make a submission to the government to make the case for why it should be allowed to keep its licence.
Ian Roth, chief veterinary officer with the Department of Primary Industries, said he was ''shocked and horrified'' by the footage.
The footage, shown on ABC's Lateline program last night, showed a worker bashing one pig several times over the head with a metal bar.
Another pig was hit 13 times because it had not been stunned properly.
NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said today the footage should act as a wake-up call for all abattoir operators.
"I've seen this footage, and it may well be a one-off, but we're certainly going to review the operations in all abattoirs as a result of this," she told ABC Radio.
"I want to make sure that all operations right across NSW are being conducted in a manner which follows those animal welfare guidelines."
The abattoir's management said in a statement this morning it was "extremely disturbed" about the reports and had reported them to the NSW Food Authority after being made aware of the video on Wednesday.
"Casual staff involved in the incident have been stood down and permanent staff have been moved to other duties until the investigation has been finalised," the statement said.
"Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors is currently moving stock from its abattoir following the suspension of operations."
Ms Hodgkinson said an investigation into the Wilberforce abattoir by the NSW Food Authority was now under way and would include an examination of its past practices.
RAW VISION: Hidden camera reveals animal cruelty
"I am not aware of any concern with this abattoir to date but I certainly trust that this investigation will look very thoroughly at all past processes with this particular plant," she said.
"Regardless of what the investigation finds, I do want inspections stepped up so that the consumers and the farmers have got confidence in the processes."
The abbatoir's management said they would fully co-operate with investigators.
Ms Hodgkinson said she personally did not think installing CCTV cameras in abattoirs was the right solution, but the suggestion would be considered as part of the government's review.