The RSPCA released a report ranking slaughterhouses, slaughterhouses and poultry processors across the country according to their animal welfare standards.
The group hopes the report will help the meat industry adopt similar regulations across state and territory borders, rather than continuing to have very different rules and regulations.
RSPCA Australia chief scientist Bidda Jones said the report and the dashboards he distributed shed light on regulatory gaps.
Dr Jones said voluntary industry standards go beyond legal requirements and improve animal welfare on their own – but it is time for state laws to catch up.
“The public (including farmers) should be able to trust that all animals in Australia are handled and slaughtered humanely,” she said.
“With the current regulatory system, having that confidence is not always possible.”
Dr Jones said there are many areas of the industry that still need to be improved, such as the use of video surveillance and in-company training.
“There is a lot the public does not know about animal welfare in Australian slaughterhouses, including even the number of animals slaughtered.
“This is why the RSPCA released this report and this dashboard, to give the community a better idea of how animal welfare is regulated in Australian slaughterhouses, renderers and poultry processors. “
The publication of the report also coincides with the resumption of progress on the Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines for livestock in processing establishments.
The report contained 13 recommendations, including: video surveillance in all facilities, audits carried out at least quarterly, better trained auditors, and slaughterhouses employing a full-time animal protection officer.
The RSPCA believes that increased transparency and oversight at slaughter establishments will only improve the reputation of the Australian red meat industry.
NSW slaughterhouses were the only industry to achieve a green mark on their newsletter due to high animal welfare requirements, auditor training, surveillance, use of CCTV and training in company.
Slaughterhouses in Western Australia and Tasmania recorded the worst scores, while South Australia, Queensland and Victoria were in the middle of the pack.
In poultry processing, Victoria scored 9.5 points overall, below NSW’s 14.5 points but better than Tasmania’s four points.
In cabinetmakers – of which Victoria has eight and NSW 10 – Victoria scored zero in animal welfare, three in audit frequency, three in auditor training, 0.5 in surveillance, zero in use of video surveillance, zero in company training and 2.5 in transparency.
The report is available at: scorecard.rspca.org.au/reports/