VEGA News Item

Say M for massacre - 06/02/2004
Slaughter is not a strong enough word for the white meat industry. VEGA's indictment answers queries from the FAWC

1. Extension of conditions at slaughterhouses to the performance of slaughter to cover thinnings and cullings in the course of production justifies the emendation and the application of the word massacre in these contexts; further, we include fish among species yielding white meat.

2. These challenges must be met in the first instance by emphasising the MHS’s responsibility for welfare at the time of slaughter and thus of inclusion of this factor on their scoring systems, the SVS must likewise be required to assert similar inspections, scoring, traceability, and reporting on commercial units producing foods from all species of animals, especially those involving birds and fish. As with the MHS, these services should be funded by the levies imposed on the industry. Commonly-used methods of culling are not being performed in a manner achieving instantaneous loss of sentience and methods with even a low failure rate can leave – in the enormity of the operations – many animals to die a lingering and painful death.

3. Much poultry meat is now being imported from countries within and without the EU, where conditions of production and slaughter are as bad or worse than here Accordingly, overseas veterinary, hygiene, and welfare consulates operating levied services in the manner of the SVS and MHS must be established, with the equivalence of hygiene and welfare scores expected for quotation by importers in the practice of due diligence.

4. In all contexts the plight of low-value (in commercial terms) poultry needs special attention. Such birds would comprise spent hens and turkeys, from breeding stocks and end-of-lay; the fate of birds from systems yielding fertile eggs for medical purposes (such as production of vaccines) must be decided on the basis of the lesser objectionable requirements of DEFRA and the Home Office.

5. Engagement of consumer demand and rejection must be sought as one of the most powerful factors in lessening the assault on the animals implicated in a monstrous industry increasing with dubious benefits to the human condition: a generation in the human population managed to be fit when fresh eggs were available for only part of the year, and poultry production was a “farmer’s wife sideline”, with occasional additions of game. Younger generations of eggytarians are being advised by nutritionists to get fit on alternatives from crops grown as food, rather than indirectly as feed. Therefore the FAWC must challenge the generally prevailing greed and demand – as it has done with meat and other products from the shechita and halal methods it finds so objectionable as to invite bans – with consistent persuasions to lessen the offensive pressure and preach and practice exercise of commendable alternatives.

6. The Food Standards Agency represents a plough-to-plate, farm-to-fork purpose: the S in FSA stands for more than safety. Anti-smoking interests have prompted government requirements for health warnings on labelling. Bowing honestly to the overwhelming enormity of the poultry and fish industries, the FAWC must now assert its authority by requirements for welfare warnings: Production of this food product conflicts with the standards of the Farm Animal Welfare Council. (the standards would include the oft-cited Five Freedoms). Choice of food and beverages at FAWC events should demonstrate steadfastness in this discipline.  

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