Author Topic: Cameras unwelcome in abattoirs: Meat Processor Nolan 17.02.2012  (Read 825 times)

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Cameras unwelcome in abattoirs: Meat Processor Nolan 17.02.2012
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2012, 05:01:32 PM »
AWARD-WINNING meat processor Terry Nolan says he doubts industry would support mandatory camera surveillance in processing plants in the wake of the NSW abattoir scandal.

Mr Nolan, who is a co-director of family-owned company Nolan Meats in Gympie, Queensland, and a former chairman of the Australian Meat Industry Council, believes industry self-regulation remains the best option for weeding out shonky operators.

"There are many processing plants in Australia with similar set-ups, but I don't feel there would be broad industry support for the compulsory installation of closed circuit TV cameras. I also don't feel we need additional inspections - it's a cost we just can't afford," he said.

"I would be more in favour of industry self-regulation. I think it's far more effective to reward compliance rather than punishing non-compliance. I can tell you that the majority of processors are doing the right thing and have animal welfare as their highest priority."

Mr Nolan's comments come as abattoirs across NSW face tighter scrutiny of their operations following last week's expose of a slaughterhouse in Sydney's outer west mistreating animals on the killing floor.

Animal rights groups are calling for the mandatory installation of closed circuit television cameras to ensure animal welfare standards are maintained.

Other abattoir owners contacted by Fairfax Agricultural Media have moved to distance themselves from the controversy.

The shocking footage of animal cruelty was released on ABC TV last Thursday, reviving painful memories of last year when graphic scenes inside Indonesian abattoirs led to the shut-down of the live cattle trade for a month.

The footage, aired on ABC's Lateline program, showed a worker bashing one pig several times over the head with a metal bar.

Another pig was hit 13 times because it had not been stunned properly. In other horrific scenes, shot by workers in a covert operation with animal liberationists Animals Australia, sheep were seen to be skinned alive and left to bleed out while hanging on hooks.

The abattoir at the centre of the claims has since been shut down and the NSW Government has announced a wider investigation into all all processing facilities across the State.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said the footage should act as a wake-up call for all abattoir operators.

"I've seen this footage, and it may well be a one-off, but we're certainly going to review the operations in all abattoirs as a result of it," she told ABC Radio.

"I want to make sure that all operations right across NSW are being conducted in a manner which follows animal welfare guidelines."

Several processors contacted declined to make any comment on the Government probe. Unreturned calls have also been placed with the Australian Meat Processors Council for comment.

One prominent NSW processor, who asked not to be identified, said they welcomed the Government investigation in the interests of transparency and regaining community trust.

"If that's what it takes then bring it on - we have nothing to hide," the source said.

The Australian Meatworkers Union's Lee Norris said animal cruelty was "totally unacceptable" and he hoped that the full force of the law would be brought to bear on those responsible at Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors at Wilberforce, in Sydney's west.

"As far as I'm concerned this cowboy joint should be well and truly trounced," he said.

"We've never, ever heard of cruelty happening on this scale, even among the smallest of backyard operators. This operator in Sydney has done themselves a huge disservice and also to the industry in general in terms of our reputation for quality, our humanity towards animals and commitment to food safety and hygiene."

Industry commentators have repeatedly stated that the Hawkesbury processor was in total breach of acceptable industry policies and procedures relating to the handling of animals.

Peter Day, executive director of compliance and enforcement at the NSW Food Authority, described the abattoir as a 'rogue operation'.

"It is not representative of the industry as a whole and is in no way compliant with what is expected of abattoirs out there in the community,'' he said.

The abattoir had been visited four times in 2011, Mr Day said, but no licence breaches or problems, as revealed last week on secret camera, had been detected.

Mr Day has defended the government's system of checks on the industry, as calls by animal rights groups intensify for increased monitoring at processing plants.

Mr Norris said he could see no problem with closed circuit television cameras installed in abattoirs as another measure to reassure the community of the industry's professionalism.

"There are many cameras already installed in abattoirs across the country and I see no reason why our members would object to this proposal," he said.

By Brad Cooper