Animal welfare at Steirerfleisch
Animal welfare is very important to us because we also want to do our job safe in the knowledge that the life of the animal up to the point of slaughter has been appropriate to the animal and followed the legal regulations accordingly.
The recent discussions related to this and the images and videos published in the media from various Austrian operations require an objective portrayal to do this issue justice.
In Austrian legislation, all points that a farmer or slaughterhouse must take into consideration are regulated. The tests related to this are carried out by vets. There are also further regulations, for example, for AMA operations, so that a business may display this seal of quality. Even this is regulated by the appropriate authorities. As a consequence, we are allowed to assume that the farmers and official control bodies are carrying out their duties conscientiously.
The transportation of animals is also legally regulated: each animal that comes to us is evaluated yet again by independent vets and the transport conditions are assessed. Guidelines apply to our stalls which correspond to legal regulations and our adherence to these is also tested.
It is close to our hearts for obvious reasons that we do the job properly. The image materials published over the last few years did not come from us, with one single exception: this exception related to a carelessly tossed cigarette butt. We have accepted the consequences of this and turned it around. We place value on the statement that aside from this, no erroneous behaviour was in evidence against us.
Each day in our business, five official vets are present for the whole slaughtering operation; they monitor the live-animal delivery, the stall, the anaesthetic and the slaughter. There are also weekly tests by the responsible official vets and an audit twice per year on behalf of the State Veterinary Health Directorate. If, in spite of these extensive tests, an error is observed, we endeavour to remove this as quickly as possible and to remedy it in a sustainable manner. Unfortunately, mistakes can happen where people work. This is why it is important to recognise and correct mistakes, and continually make improvements. We hold comprehensive monthly training courses about animal protection conditions with all staff who work in pig delivery and anaesthesia; here, we are also supported by the official vets.
At each of our locations, we have appointed two animal protection representatives and all employees in the slaughtering operation are trained accordingly; a corresponding certificate of competence is available for each staff member. We place a high value on the proper fulfilment of the requirements and to this end, invest a lot of money in the education and further training of our employees.
For many years, we have also been working with the bsi institute (consulting and training institute for animal protection in transportation and slaughter) in Germany. Here, we want to ensure that there are no systematic mistakes in our business in the areas of animal transportation and animal protection, as well as slaughter. For smaller mistakes that could arise, all employees are required to correct the mistakes accordingly. All findings of this institute are also reported to the appropriate authorities.
Finally, we would like to state that slaughter is a component of meat production; if you want to eat meat, the animal must be slaughtered correctly. The discussions about the corresponding procedures are necessary if they are led professionally and we, of course, are continuously exchanging information with the authorities to be able to adapt improvements.
Karoline Scheucher, Alois Strohmeier, Christian Hackl