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Animal welfare standards to improve in domestic abattoirs

21 May, 2012

Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, has announced a tough new animal welfare package to lift animal welfare standards in all domestic abattoirs.

"Under the new requirements, each abattoir will be required to designate an Animal Welfare Officer to be present on the premises to monitor and take responsibility for the welfare of animals. Only employees that have undertaken specific animal welfare officer training will be eligible to be designated", Hodgkinson said.

The new animal welfare package is part of the NSW government's review of domestic abattoir operations following the incident at Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors in February this year.

The initiative, announced last Thursday by the NSW government, aims to ensure a number of measures will be imposed as a condition of the abattoir's licence.

Only employees that have been trained in the relevant component of the of the MTM11 Australian Meat Industry Training Package will be eligible to be a designated Animal Welfare Officer, while all relevant employees are required to undertake training in the "stunning, sticking and shackling" component of the MTM11 Australian Meat Industry Training Package by July 1, 2013.

"This government takes non-compliance of food and animal welfare laws extremely seriously, and these tough new measures are being introduced to foster a culture in which abattoir management and employees fully understand and implement procedures that consistently comply with animal welfare standards.

"The NSW government will also introduce an additional annual audit specifically focussing on animal welfare compliance and develop a sanctions policy to address any non-compliance with these requirements", Hodgkinson said.

Hodgkinson added the NSW government had also completed its investigation of Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors and that it will be fined a total of $5,200 for breaching its licence conditions and it will be placed on the Food Authority's Name & Shame register.

The RSPCA investigation into allegations of animal mistreatment under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA) 1979 is also ongoing and the abattoir could be subject to additional penalties under POCTA for acts of cruelty to animals.

"This government has listened to community concern about animal welfare standards in domestic abattoirs following the incident at Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors in February this year, and now we're acting to ensure animal welfare standards in domestic abattoirs are improved," Hodgkinson said.

Source: NSW Food Authority

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