French poultrymen attacked in report
By Philip Clarke
EUROPEAN health inspectors have sharply criticised the conditions found in French poultry farms and slaughterhouses, which fail to meet EU standards.
A report, following two inspection visits earlier this year, says the level of veterinary inspection at all stages of the production chain is seriously lacking, leading to unacceptable practices.
For example, the inspectors found severe faecal contamination of turkey carcasses, insufficient cleaning of equipment and a lack of traceability. "The animal welfare aspects during stunning were not adequately supervised, and there were shortcomings in the equipment used," adds the report.
It also notes that some battery farms in France still do not comply with the standards introduced in 1995, while the bacteriological criteria for drinking water are different to EU requirements.
"The range of hygiene deficiencies revealed in French poultry slaughterhouses is a scandal," says Peter Stevenson of pressure group Compassion in World Farming. "Shockingly in France some birds are not rendered instantaneously unconscious by the stun, and a significant number regain consciousness as they are bleeding to death."
Peter Bradnock of the British Poultry Meat Federation says it is imperative that the 100,000t of poultry meat imported from France each year is produced to the same standard as in the UK. "Where this is not happening, as confirmed in the commissions report, then the UK government must act decisively to protect consumers interests. Such double standards in the single market cannot be tolerated." *