Investigation into claims of bird abuse at region’s largest duck producer
- Credit: Animal Justice Project
Claims that birds were abused and guidelines breached at the largest duck slaughterhouse in the UK has prompted the company that runs it to launch an investigation.
Undercover video footage taken by pressure group Animal Justice Project shows what it claimed were “disturbing” practices inside the Gressingham Duck slaughterhouse at Redgrave, near Diss.
The UK’s largest duck producer, Gressingham produces around eight million ducks a year, over half of the 14 million ducks sold over the Christmas period, and supplies Red Tractor-Assured birds to major supermarkets.
MORE: Protestors call for duck farming ban after investigation finds ‘shocking’ conditionsAnimal Justice Project claimed its footage showed workers using “excessive force” when loading the ducks into shackles, and birds left hanging for longer than the two minutes specified in both UK and EU legislation.
Gressingham Foods has refuted the claims and said welfare of its birds was “an absolute priority”.
A spokesman said: “The majority of the footage shows processes that are indicative of a well-run, high welfare poultry processing plant. There is no clear evidence of abuse or neglect by Gressingham staff in this footage.
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“There are actions that are not representative of the high standards expected of our factory. They will be fully investigated in conjunction with external auditors and the appropriate actions taken to ensure immediate improvements.”
They added: “We work to the highest standards in hygiene, biosecurity and animal welfare across our factories and farms. All staff responsible for the welfare of our birds have the necessary training with regular updates for continuous improvement.”
MORE: Bird flu warning to poultry farmersThe investigation also claimed ducks were grabbed and dragged by their heads, necks, wings and one leg and were filmed being forcefully rammed into shackles.
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Other ducks were shackled above a metal bar, which they hit repeatedly, it is claimed, while some in crates were missed by workers and went down between rollers in machinery.
Dr Alick Simmons, former UK Government deputy chief veterinary officer and former UK Food Standards Agency veterinary director, said: “The Animal Justice Project video shows some particularly poor practice. There are several non-compliances which can be clearly seen and which need to be addressed.
“The video shows a cramped hanging-on bay and a slaughter line which is being run too quickly for the available space, resulting in the ducks being frequently handled inhumanely and without due care.”