Inspectors found thousands of issues at Dutch slaughterhouses last year

Thousands of shortcomings were discovered during inspections of the 39 major meat and poultry slaughterhouses in the Netherlands, the Dutch food and product safety authority, NVWA, said on Monday. Some 5,700 issues were found just in the first half of 2022, with 184 fines and 217 written warnings issued during the six-month period. While still high, there was a 20 percent decrease in the number of fines and warnings combined, when compared to the last six months of 2021.

Over 50,000 inspections were carried out, leading to the discovery of the 5,700 problems. More than 1,400 of them were due to animal welfare, including issues like improperly stunning animals before they are killed. In other cases, the contents of the animals’ stomachs or intestinal track were not properly disposed of, and could be found on carcasses.

“The figures show that slaughterhouses are currently not taking sufficient responsibility to guarantee animal welfare and food safety. Things go wrong too often, and it has to be improved,” said NVWA Inspector General Gerard Bakker. “The required change and attitude of the sector must come from industry itself. Where the business community falls short, we intervene.”

Interventions can include more supervision by veterinarians and more inspections. Additionally, slaughterlines can be temporarily shut down, and violating slaughterhouses can be fined.

The Netherlands has 23 large slaughterhouses for meat, including cattle and pigs, but also sheep, horses and goats. There are 16 major poultry slaughterhouses in total. “The 401 sanctioned violations are divided into 70 written warnings and 62 fines to red meat slaughterhouses, and 147 warnings and 122 fines to poultry slaughterhouses,” the NVWA said.

During the last six months of 2021, there were over 500 violations. This was broken down into 83 written warnings and 91 fines to red meat slaughterhouses, and 176 warnings and 153 fines handed out to poultry slaughterhouses

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