Spain becomes the first EU country to legislate the installation of video surveillance cameras in all slaughterhouses
Our Member Organisation Equalia has been pushing since the end of 2018 for better regulation in Spanish slaughterhouses, which was ratified last week with the approval of the royal decree in the Congress of Deputies.
Three years ago, the NGO Equalia started the campaign "Ley de Cámaras de Videovigilancia en Mataderos" (Law on Video Surveillance Cameras in Slaughterhouses), to call for the mandatory installation of video surveillance cameras in all Spanish slaughterhouses, with the aim of effectively and rigorously guaranteeing compliance with animal welfare and food safety regulations.
This royal decree makes Spain the first country in the European Union to establish a law for the protection of animal welfare and food safety in slaughterhouses.
All abattoirs regardless of size will have to abide by the law. Large slaughterhouses will have one year to implement the change while smaller facilities will have two.
The NGO Equalia drew up an action protocol together with the veterinary services of the meat sector, which was presented to and adopted by several of the most important companies. It specified the three basic measures of the proposal: the placement of cameras in all areas where live animals are handled, the storage of the images for one month, in strict compliance with the Personal Data Protection Act, and access to the images by the Official Veterinary Service of the autonomous community in order to review them, apart from the operator.
In parallel, an initial law proposal, presented by Equalia, was approved through non-legislative propositions in the parliaments of the Balearic Islands, Navarre, La Rioja, Community of Madrid, Community of Valencia and the Canary Islands.
This work with institutions, entities and companies in the sector was accompanied by the publication of six investigative reports in Spanish slaughterhouses. In them, Equalia highlighted the need for a more exhaustive control of the practices carried out in these facilities. Following the publication of images of serious irregularities in animal welfare in a slaughterhouse in Ávila, where operators were seen cutting the legs off cows while they were still conscious, the meat sector, through ANICE, took a stand in favour of the installation of cameras in slaughterhouses. The same happened with other interest groups such as trade unions (Comisiones Obreras) and consumer associations (Facua).
The national and international repercussions of the images of the investigative report provoked the reaction of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which, through AESAN (Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition), initiated a draft royal decree establishing measures for the control of animal welfare in slaughterhouses through the installation of video surveillance systems. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, on which AESAN depends, submitted the text for public consultation on 20 October 2020. After studying the allegations received from the interest groups that participated, the royal decree that has been approved today in Congress was drawn up.
In 2018, we started the debate on the need for video surveillance in slaughterhouses in Spain. Today, after positioning the meat sector, government, trade unions and consumer associations in favour of the proposal, this royal decree makes Spain the first country in the EU to require video surveillance systems in slaughterhouses. Even though it is only a first step, we have to recognise that this royal decree has some weak points such as the viewing of the images. The treatment of the viewing will fall mainly on the operator (slaughterhouse), and not on the official veterinary service of the autonomous community, in addition to not specifying an exhaustive procedure for reviewing images in terms of the periodicity and time of viewing them.Guillermo Moreno, Director of Equalia