Some small abattoirs are struggling to meet regulations requiring them to install CCTV in parts of their premises where live animals are handled – despite the deadline having past at the beginning of November.
According to a report published in The Independent, about 7% of abattoirs in England have still not invested in CCTV following the 5 November cut-off.
But the newspaper quotes a Food Standards Agency spokesman as saying there were no plans to prosecute these operators, so long as they had a plan in place to install the equipment.
In response, the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) has made a plea for clemency and urged government to provide grant assistance for the smallest abattoirs to become compliant.
Richard Young, SFT policy director said: “I fully understand the concern [of animal welfare groups] about the factory scale of the slaughtering industry and the abuses that have occurred. But they are actually helping to drive the last few small abattoirs out of business.”
Mr Young said the UK’s smallest abattoirs were facing an unprecedented crisis, with many losing money, due in part to a collapse in the value of hides and skins.
At the same time, waste disposal costs had increased significantly due to consolidation in the rendering industry and higher minimum charges for small quantities.
“This means that a significant proportion of those that have not yet installed CCTV need government assistance to prevent them being forced to close,” he said.
The SFT is calling for small abattoirs to be recognised as a “public good” and for grants to be made available to help with the cost of installing CCTV and additional structural improvements.
But a spokesman for Compassion in World Farming told The Independent that all slaughterhouses needed to “comply or cease operation”.
“We are appalled that, having been given ample notice, some businesses are still not compliant,” he said.
Legislation requiring the installation of CCTV in areas of slaughterhouses where live animals are handled came into effect on 4 May, with operators given until 5 November to complete the work.
There is no such requirement in Wales, though a £1.1m grant scheme was introduced earlier this year for small- and medium-sized abattoirs for infrastructure improvements, including the installation of CCTV.
There are now only 56 small red meat abattoirs left in the UK, with a third having closed between 2007 and 2017, and a further seven closing this year.