Seven workers at a Norfolk halal slaughterhouse have been suspended after disturbing footage emerged of animals being mistreated.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched an investigation into alleged breaches of animal welfare rules at Simply Halal in Banham.
The footage, recorded over eight days between February and March this year and obtained by animal charity Hillside Animal Sanctuary, showed terrified animals suffering agonising deaths.
An FSA spokesman said: “Following an FSA investigation, we immediately halted slaughter operations at Simply Halal and launched urgent investigations.
“We have suspended personal licences to slaughter and handle animals [known as certificates of competence] for five individuals, including Simply Halal employees seen in the footage, as we do not consider them to be fit and proper persons to handle animals.
“The official veterinarian and the meat hygiene inspector working in the premises at the time of these incidents have also been suspended from their duties, pending immediate investigations.”
While the FSA investigation is ongoing, the abattoir is not able to slaughter animals, but can carry out the cutting of meat.
FSA rules state that all animals must be stunned before slaughter unless they are being religiously slaughtered for halal or kosher meat, which requires adherence to strict government guidelines.
EU regulations governing the slaughter of animals by Jewish or Muslim methods state that:
- The animal’s throat must be cut by one rapid, uninterrupted movement of the knife
- Both carotid arteries and both jugular veins must be severed
- The knife used to slaughter the animal must be inspected before each animal is slaughtered to make sure it is of sufficient size and sharpness to slaughter that animal
The British Veterinary Association has called for CCTV in all slaughterhouses.