RSPCA inspectors in abattoir swoop

PUBLISHED: 12:25 21 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:51 31 May 2010

INSPECTORS visited an abattoir yesterday (Tuesday) following reports that two live pigs were dunked in boiling water. Dalehead Foods, the company that runs the Linton slaughterhouse on Cambridge Road, has confirmed two live pigs were put in boiling water,

INSPECTORS visited an abattoir yesterday (Tuesday) following reports that two live pigs were dunked in boiling water.

Dalehead Foods, the company that runs the Linton slaughterhouse on Cambridge Road, has confirmed two live pigs were put in boiling water, a process that removes pigs' bristles after they have been killed.

However, the company has stressed the incidents were the fault of one employee and that it adheres to strict animal welfare rules.

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

"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.

"Further investigation confirmed that these incidents are isolated."

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

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

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

The abattoir 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 after the incidents at the slaughter-house, one or possibly two slaughterers have had their licenses revoked."

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

An RSPCA spokesman said the abattoir would be visited by inspectors to find out more about what happened.

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