Undercover footage, that exposes the Pilgrim’s Pride abattoir for using ‘utterly inhumane’ levels of CO2 to stun pigs before slaughter, is the first to be taken inside a UK slaughterhouse.
The footage was obtained by animal rights activist, Joey Carbstrong, and his team. The animal-rights campaigners infiltrated the Pilgrim’s Pride slaughterhouse in Manchester, where they planted cameras inside the cages of the chamber. The group retrieved the cameras and obtained footage of pigs being gassed.
The video shows several pigs trapped inside a small cage. As the pigs are lowered into the gas, they begin to squeal and spasm. Nearing the end of the process, many pigs continue to wriggle, while excrement falls from the cages above. The footage was captured by the campaigners for the documentary Pignorant, which tackles a larger investigation into the UK pork industry.
Joey Carbstrong, an animal defender, declared: “We urgently need to stop using animals as resources because this kind of horror show is the result.”
A post, written by the animal rights activist group Animal Rising read: ‘This cruelty is symptomatic of our broken relationship with animals and the natural world.’
CEO of the National Pig Association (NPA), Lizzie Wilson, noted: “CO2 gas stunning of pigs does provide some welfare benefits; there is reduced risk of potential human error, animals remain in groups, and modern gas systems enable improved handling of pigs through use of automatic gates, which reduces the need for staff intervention and stress.”
The animal welfare policy for Pilgrim’s UK confirms that all Pilgrim’s pigs are stunned using CO2. The policy also reads that Pilgrim’s UK aims to keep pigs’ lives “as stress-free as possible.”
The declaration also states: “At Pilgrim’s UK it is essential that all pigs are treated humanely throughout their lives and that the pig’s welfare is always at the forefront of everything we do.”
A Pilgrim’s Pride spokesperson said: “There is nothing to identify that this is our site, and it would be inappropriate for us to comment on that basis. Furthermore, the Food Standards Agency is legally required to be present at all sites and would routinely review any footage taken from an abattoir to ensure animals are treated humanely, and we have no issues raised in the timeframe you have provided.”
In 2023, the killing of pigs using the CO2 stunning method has increased to 88 per cent of all pigs being gassed. This information comes after the Farm Animal Welfare Council announced in 2003, that the suffocation method “is not acceptable and we wish to see it phased out in five years”.
A government spokesperson has revealed that: “The government is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare, including when animals are slaughtered or killed. We recognise there are concerns over the use of high-concentration carbon dioxide to stun pigs and will continue to look for viable alternatives based on the latest evidence on this issue.”