Following a review from the Government the Environment Secretary has announced new plans to make CCTV mandatory in all slaughterhouses in England.
We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, and we should be rightly proud of the way in which the UK has led the way in the protection of animals.
Announcing steps to deliver our manifesto commitment for CCTV to be required in every slaughterhouse in England in the areas where live animals are present, is an important next step towards reinforcing our status as a global leader. The Government has also confirmed it will raise standards for farm animals and domestic pets by modernising statutory animal welfare codes to reflect enhancements in medicines, technology and the latest research and advice from vets. The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat.
As we prepare to leave the EU, these measures show consumers around the world that our animals are protected to the very highest standards.
I am pleased to read that the Food Standards Agency estimates that 94 per cent of slaughtered cattle, 96 per cent of pigs, 90 per cent of sheep and 99 per cent of poultry are now processed on premises with CCTV, and the Government is keen to see the minority of abattoirs still without CCTV move quickly to introduce it.
Although both myself and the Government would prefer all animals to be stunned before slaughter, I recognise the requirements of Jewish and Muslim communities and accept the importance they attach to slaughter in accordance with their beliefs.
There are long-standing provisions in UK law that, subject to specific requirements, permit the slaughter of animals without prior stunning to meet Jewish and Islamic religious requirements.
The Government is determined to ensure that religious slaughter is only carried out by licensed slaughtermen in approved or regulated slaughterhouses. Slaughter is not and must not be permitted in any other place, even for personal consumption.
There is no national or EU requirement to display the method of slaughter on meat products but where this is included it must be accurate. Consumers should have the necessary information available to them to make an informed choice about their food, and this is something that the Government will be able to consider in the context of leaving the EU.