Ducks abused at slaughterhouse supplying Waitrose, UK

NEWS AND VIEWS (COMMENT): Since 2018 UK slaughterhouses have been required to have security cameras inside their facilities to detect potential breaches of animal welfare. The Gressingham Duck slaughterhouse, in Redgrave, Sussex did not have these cameras but, fortunately, Animal Justice Project had installed secret cameras in September.

Gressingham Duck

Gressingham Duck barn. Photo: in public domain.

The cameras revealed the workers abusing the ducks. Several breeches of welfare guidelines were shown such as ducks being kept in metal shackles and shackled ducks appearing to be left on the line for more than a maximum two minutes. This is a clear breach of the regulations. Also the video footage shows some birds hanging upside down for up to 14 minutes before passed through an electric water bath where they are rendered unconscious.

Shackled birds hanging upside down like this is likely to be very painful and because it is highly unnatural it will also be stressful causing a fear and escape response. Further, the birds were grabbed by their heads, wings or necks in other breaches of the guidelines.

In addition, the video showed workers arguing and swearing at each other indicating that they were not taking sufficient care of their duties and were distracted. The video has been seen by Alick Simmons, a former government deputy chief vet who passed judgement on it.

In addition to Waitrose, Gressingham Duck also supply Asda, Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Tesco said that they are deeply concerned and have launched an investigation. Paul McCartney famously said that if all abattoirs had glass walls everybody would become a vegan or vegetarian.

In defence Gressingham said that the evidence did not show abuse or neglect but they admitted that the video showed behaviour that was not representative “of the high standards expected of our factory”.

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