THE UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, so when cases arise which bring meat production into disrepute, they cast a shadow across the whole industry.

Abattoirs are not places for the faint-hearted, and many committed meat-eaters would likely pale at visiting one, but stringent regulations are in place this country which put humane slaughter at the core of the process. Even for halal methods, there is a strict code of practice for workers.

So when scandals emerge like that which engulfed the Bowood Yorkshire Lamb abattoir near Thirsk, they leave farmers and butchers with their heads in their hands.

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Many – including the government – think mandatory CCTV in abattoirs fully accessible to Food Standards Agency (FSA) vets and inspectors is the answer.

But back in early 2015 when Animal Aid’s expose on Bowood was first published, the firm issued a statement saying it had already had CCTV in its premises for more than four years.

No amount of CCTV can prevent human error – or deliberate cruelty – but if there are not enough independent staff to carry out monitoring work, then recording hours and hours of footage is a waste of time.

Staffing at the FSA fell from 1,315 in 2012 to 1,067 in 2016, and council environmental health departments have been hard hit by local government austerity. Unless these departments are properly resourced and funded to enforce the UK’s world-leading welfare regulations, more exposes of this nature will surely follow.