Thank you for contacting me about slaughterhouses.
Let me assure you that the Government shares my own commitment to maintaining high standards of animal welfare at slaughter, and there are strict legal requirements in place. In slaughterhouses, these requirements are monitored and enforced by Official Veterinarians of the Food Standards Agency to ensure that animals are spared unnecessary suffering, distress or pain during the slaughter process.
CCTV, as with other monitoring methods, does have limitations and relies on businesses to monitor their operations appropriately, but can be beneficial to animal welfare. I am pleased to note 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 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. I am, however, determined to ensure that religious slaughter is only carried out by licensed slaughtermen in approved or regulated slaughterhouses.
Consumers should have the information they need to make an informed choice about what they eat. Most halal and kosher meat is already labelled voluntarily, but because there is a single market for food across the European Union, currently any mandatory labelling system would need to cover more than just the UK. Following our withdrawal from the European Union and subject to the outcome of the exit negotiations, the Government will need to consider future policy in this area
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.