Morrisons has been accused of using ‘excessive force’ at one of its abattoirs, after undercover filming allegedly revealed workers routinely abusing pigs.
The supermarket chain was one of the first retailers to install CCTV cameras across its sites to reassure customers about animal welfare, saying that it is the “best way to demonstrate that we have the highest possible standards”.
However, according to independent veterinary figures who reviewed the video for The Times, the footage filmed at Morrisons’ Woodheads site in Spalding, Lincolnshire, showed staff swearing at the animals and hitting them with paddles.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which employs official vets at the slaughterhouse, said that it had a “zero-tolerance to animal welfare breaches”.
“We will look into these new allegations, and if necessary take enforcement action,” an FSA spokesman said.
It comes as Morrisons has come under fire recently and is being urged to sign an animal welfare policy to improve conditions.
Subscribe to Grocery Gazette for free
“We care deeply about animal welfare, both in our own operations and throughout our supply chain, and we’re confident that our training and monitoring systems are among the best in the industry,” a spokesman for Morrisons said.
“We believe at this stage that some of the sounds and footage in the video that purports to be from our facility are from elsewhere.
“There is some concerning footage of a pig that arrived at our abattoir with a clear injury to its front leg. We are looking carefully into how this happened and we will be stepping up the training of our third-party hauliers,” they added.
Claire Palmer, founder of Animal Justice Project, the group that filmed and released the footage, said that the video was “shocking” and “grim”.
She commented: “Consumers are misled into believing the ‘best animal welfare standards in the world’ hype. Undercover investigations consistently show blatant abuse taking place under the nose of official government vets and CCTV cameras.
“The sad fact is, nobody is going to watch hours of daily footage. It is only watched when the vet reports an issue,” Palmer said.