ECHUCA’S Riverside Meats will support the installation of 24-hour CCTV surveillance of its meat processing facility with independent monitoring after authorities launched investigations over animal cruelty complaints.
Riverside Meats managing director Chris Peat said the Peat family was disturbed and saddened by the actions captured on video by animal welfare activists.
“Animals deserve better treatment.
“We are a farming family with enormous respect for our animals,” he said.
“This is distressing to us, and we will take action.”
In a statement released tonight, the company said it understood the position taken by Animals Australia, and the important role they play in highlighting animal abuse.
The company said it did not agree with animal activists illegally entering properties to film operations, but would support any initiative by the Victorian Government to implement 24-hour surveillance and independent monitoring for all meat processing facilities.
PrimeSafe and Agriculture Victoria initiated investigations in to the abattoir after receiving a complaint on October 25 this year from Animals Australia that included images and observations alleging poor animal welfare at the Echuca abattoir.
Animals Australia has written to Ms Pulford calling for the introduction of CCTV cameras in all abattoirs and for footage to be independently monitored, with full online streaming access available to enforcement authorities.
Mr Peat said while the actions shown in the video supplied by Animals Australia were inexcusable, the company recognised that the culture of the industry is one in which it is difficult to change attitudes and practices that workers have been allowed to believe are acceptable, over many decades.
The company said it took responsibility for failing to adequately supervise its workers. Four workers have been moved to other roles, and Riverside is now undertaking the actions required by PrimeSafe. The company acknowledged it did not do enough to prevent the failures in equipment and work practices which were recorded in the video.
More than 70 hours of video was secretly filmed, and most of the video shows correct processing practices.
“But hours of getting it right doesn’t make up for even a few minutes of causing distress and harm to animals,” Mr Peat said.
He said the 24-hour CCTV surveillance might help to change the culture which is holding back Victoria’s otherwise highly successful meat industry.
“Australians love their meat, and they deserve to be assured that it is produced ethically and humanely.
“We will increase our vigilance and supervision to make sure this is achieved.”
Riverside Meats is co-operating fully with all authorities, and will comply with all required measures, the company statement said.