Abattoir cleared by welfare inspectors

PUBLISHED: 07:08 28 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:52 31 May 2010

INSPECTORS from the RSPCA are satisfied that the reported acts of cruelty at a Linton abattoir were isolated incidents . Last week the RSPCA were informed that a member of staff at the Dalehead Foods abattoir, on Cambridge Road in Linton, had been respon

INSPECTORS from the RSPCA are satisfied that the reported acts of cruelty at a Linton abattoir were "isolated incidents".

Last week the RSPCA were informed that a member of staff at the Dalehead Foods abattoir, on Cambridge Road in Linton, had been responsible for two live pigs being dunked in scalding water.

Although the member of staff involved was dismissed, RSPCA inspectors visited the slaughterhouse to assess what had happened.

An RSPCA spokesman said: "There is no proof that the animals' welfare was compromised, as stunning standards exceed the minimum amp and time level and can, themselves, result in the pig's death.

"RSPCA inspectors are satisfied that these were isolated incidents and that the organisation acted correctly upon learning of the employee's actions."

A spokesman for Dalehead Foods said: "In May, Dalehead Foods were obliged to suspend and retrain an employee who had not followed mandatory procedures at its site in Linton.

"Following the report of a further breach in September 2006 by the same employee Dalehead Foods invoked disciplinary proceedings, the outcome of which was the termination of the employee's contract."

The spokesman added: "In an environment of increasing food safety and animal welfare our objective is always to meet and, wherever possible, exceed all legislation, standards and codes of practice relating to our operations."

The abattoir in Linton operates to the RSPCA Freedom Foods standard and is audited by a number of other factory accreditation bodies.

Representatives from the Meat Hygiene Service and the independent Official Veterinary Surgeon are on-site throughout the factory's operating hours and are supported by Dalehead Food's own animal welfare officers.

A spokesman for the Meat Hygiene Service, a division of the Food Standards Agency, said: "It is our understanding that following the incidents at the Dalehead Foods slaughterhouse, one or possibly two slaughterers have had their slaughtering licenses revoked.

"If what we're told is correct, it would appear that the methods used were not in accordance with the conditions stipulated by animal welfare legislation."

The Dalehead Foods spokesman said that nothing like this had ever happened in the past and that "the procedures in place at the Linton site exceed minimum statutory requirements".

Dalehead Foods has been in business for 37 years and employs 1600 people.

The company, which owns approximately 25,000 breeding sows, prides itself on its rigorous welfare standards.

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