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Top 10 Animal Welfare Stories in 2013

Release time:2017-01-05

Animal welfare is an important consideration for the global meat industry. With increasingly strict laws on welfare, pressure from customers and undercover investigations by activists, the industry cannot afford to drop the ball when it comes to the well-being of farm animals. Scroll through to see the biggest animal welfare stories of 2013. 

Animal welfare stories 


(1) Australia halted exports to Egypt in May after an undercover investigation by Animals Australia showed by Australian cattle suffering “extreme” cruelty at abattoirs in the country. The discovery reignited the live export row in Australia, which has been raging since undercover filming revealed abuse of Australian animals in Indonesia in 2011. Welfare groups have also reported mistreatment of Australian livestock in Malaysia, Vietnam, Kuwait, Mauritius and Jordan this year, leading the Australian Greens to call for a total ban on live exports. 


(2) In January, the RSPCA called for a judicial review of the arrangements made for the approval and supervision of live animal exports from the port of Ramsgate, following the death of 47 sheep at the port in September 2012. The High Court rejected the appeal twice, and live exports subsequently moved from Ramsgate to Dover, where RSPCA officers have been banned from inspecting shipments. Both the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) have held protests against the trade, but live exports continue to sail from Dover, and the RSPCA has so far been unable to gain access to the port. 


(3) On 1 January 2013, the European Union introduced new legislation banning sow stalls on the Continent. However, in August was revealed that just 13 EU countries were compliant with the ban, with infringements proceedings started against Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland and Portugal, and investigations ongoing into compliance by the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Finland and Slovenia. 


(4) Sow stalls have also been high on the agenda in the US this year, with animal welfare campaigners pushing for regional bans on gestation crates. So far, nine US states have introduced legislation banning gestation crates, with Massachusetts and New Jersey considering a ban. A number of US processors and food service giants have voluntarily banned sow gestation crates from their supply chain, with Papa John, Ahold USA and Peapod beginning the process of eliminating them this year. 



(5) Earlier this year, the Polish parliament infuriated religious groups and the meat industry by rejecting a bill that would have legalized slaughter without stunning for kosher and halal meat. Religious slaughter was banned in Poland in November 2012, when a court ruled that it was unconstitutional to allow any exemptions from laws requiring animals to be stunned prior to slaughter. The government introduced a bill to legalize religious slaughter, but it was rejected by Polish MPs in July, with 222 votes against, 178 for and nine abstentions.


(6) In June, US group Mercy for Animals launched a campaign against Amazon for selling foie gras on its US website.The group release undercover video footage which it aimed was filmed at Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale, New York and allegedly showed ducks being treated badly and force-fed. Hudson Valley dismissed the video footage as a “misrepresentation” and, so far, Amazon.com is still listing foie gras products. However, Amazon did ban the sale of foie gras products from its UK site in October following intense campaigning by UK group Viva!. 


(7) In the spring an undercover investigation by Compassion in World Farming uncovered “the worst abuses of pig welfare in the EU to date” on farms across three countries in Ireland. A few months later, a similar investigation revealed abuse of pigs on 11 farms across Italy, with farmers allegedly “blatantly flouting” EU rules on animal welfare for pigs. CIWF says this kind of abuse is common across Europe and has called for agriculture ministers from all 27 EU member states to ensure the EU Pigs Directive is being enforced. 


(8) Earlier this year it was confirmed that the third-largest poultry producer in the US, Perdue Farms would face court action over the labeling of its chickens as “humane”. Lawyers for Perdue had pushed for dismissal fo the lawsuit, which was filed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), but their arguments were rejected by a New Jersey federal court in March, meaning the lawsuit can proceed to trial. In October, HSUS filed a second lawsuit against Perdue on behalf of Florida consumers, who purchased the company’s “humanely-raised” Harvestman chickens. 


(9)The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) caused uproar in July, when it decided to approve applications for horse slaughter at two US plants. Officials said they were required by law to issue the permits, because the ban on funding for horsemeat slaughter inspections expired in 2011. The Humane Society for the United States (HSUS) immediately filed a lawsuit to stop the plants from becoming operational and, although this was dismissed by a federal judge in Albuquerque, the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a temporary injunction barring the USDA from inspecting the plants in November. 


(10)In June, a report by three animal welfare charities criticized EU banks and credit agencies for providing funding to international livestock producers with poor welfare standards. . The charities called for investors to change their policies to ensure EU money did not end up in the pockets of farmers who did not meet EU farming standards. 

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